Newark, N.Y. – The Newark Pilots announce the return of first baseman Austin Clock, pitcher Travis Laitar and outfielder Conrad Ziemendorf from the 2014 team that reached the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL) finals.
The three are teammates at SUNY Cortland under head coach Joe Brown, a nine-time winner of the American Baseball Coaches Association’s Division III New York Region Coach of the Year award who guided his team to a tie for fifth place in the 2014 NCAA Division III World Series.
Clock played in 38 games for the Pilots in 2014, starting 36 of them at first base. He hit .303, finishing second on the team with 40 hits and 12 multi-hit games. He put together an eight-game hit streak in July which helped him win the PGCBL’s Player of the Week for the week of July 10-16. At 6-4, 235 pounds, Clock is expected to start at first base for Cortland in place of the now-graduated Max Rosing, who was named to the All-PGCBL Second Team as a Pilot in 2013.
“Austin has carried on the tradition of very talented Cortland first basemen that I have had the pleasure in coaching during my time at Newark,” said Newark head coach Mike Armstrong. “His on-field performance last season was obviously impressive, but his leadership and personality in the clubhouse proved to be an invaluable contribution to the team’s success.”
Laitar, an All-PGCBL Second Teamer, posted a paltry 0.69 ERA in 11 relief appearances. The Fergus, Ontario, native struck out 20 in 13.0 innings of work and walked only two. His six saves were tied for the second-most in the PGCBL and he collected a seventh with a scoreless frame in the West Division Championship Series against Elmira. Laitar threw 11.2 innings in 11 relief appearances as a sophomore at Cortland, and his role may increase this spring with the loss of graduates Steven Kimmelman and Steve Komanecky, who combined for 30 relief appearances and seven saves as seniors.
“Travis was a shutdown pitcher for us at the end of games last year,” Armstrong said. “He brings a great work ethic and a terrific attitude to the ballpark every day. I expect Travis to improve this season at Cortland and then have a huge impact on the mound for the Pilots again in 2015.”
Ziemendorf was part of Newark’s early-season success before his summer was derailed by injury. He batted .333 and his three triples were tied for the most in the PGCBL despite playing in only 11 games. The Pilots went 6-2 in games he started in centerfield. A product of nearby Penfield, N.Y., Ziemendorf made 37 starts and hit .315 during his sophomore campaign at Cortland and will continue to roam centerfield for the Red Dragons in 2015.
“His combination of speed, power and range made him one of the top outfielders in the league, and I expect him to fill that same role next summer,” said Armstrong of Ziemendorf. “His injury resulted in a big loss for the team, but his dedication to the Pilots was felt as he remained with the team throughout the summer, bringing a great attitude and picking up his teammates.”
The trio of Clock, Laitar and Ziemendorf has seen its share of success at Colburn Park in the past year. They helped the Red Dragons capture the NCAA Division III New York Regional, hosted by Newark, before earning a bid in the PGCBL Championship Series with the Pilots in August. It was Newark’s second appearance in the league championship in their four-year history.
The Newark Pilots begin their fifth season of play at Colburn Park in June of 2015. For more information and to purchase season tickets for the 2015 season, contact Pilots president Leslie Ohmann at 315-576-6710 or visit www.newarkpilots.com. Fans can like the Pilots on Facebook at www.facebook.com/newarkpilots, and follow them on Instagram and Twitter @NewarkPilots for the latest information.
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