RailRiders start strong in PGCBL

With the 2015 Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League (PGCBL) in full swing, the Victor RailRiders are a team looking to take big steps in year one. As one of two new teams in the PGCBL this year, owner Jim Ludwig’s main goal is to have his team stay highly competitive throughout its inaugural campaign.

“Our goal is to be as competitive as possible and to provide players a chance to improve their game,” Ludwig said of his fledging club. “We want our players to be able say they were challenged and had the chance to compete with some of the best in the country.”

With the opportunity to play top collegiate competition now a reality, the RailRiders will have to depend on premier coaching and talented athletes on the field to stay ahead of competition that comes to play in upstate New York.

Dan Shwam, head coach of the RailRiders, has plenty of premier collegiate and professional coaching experience that the RailRiders desperately need. With a long history of coaching in the PGCBL and other collegiate leagues, Shwam has also spent time coaching with the Florida Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers and the Montreal Expos. With a profound resume on hand, Shawm looks to be the leader of the RailRiders this season.

“I treat these players the same I would treat anyone in a pro-setting,” Shwam said. “I want to hold them accountable and give them a taste of what the next level's like.”

On the field, the RailRiders have been led by pitcher John Saviano, and infielder Dale Wickham, who has led the team with a .333 batting average along with one home run on the season. With Wickham leading the way from the plate, Saviano has done the same from the mound, picking up the first win for the organization in its inaugural season debut last week. During his outing, Saviano posted six scoreless innings of work against the Saugerties Stallions – the league's other new franchise – allowing four hits while striking out five.

“There is always pressure throwing game one of a week,” Saviano said. “But there is even more pressure throwing game one of a season and for a new team. Getting off on the right foot is very important to our team's early success.”

After all, that is exactly what Saviano did. Battling the pressure, Saviano picked up a much-needed win to get his team off on the right foot as they look to form their own identity as the season moves forward.

“As a team, we are just taking it one game at a time,” Wickham said. “Over a long season if we compete day in day out, then we will find ourselves putting together a lot of wins.”

Head coach Dan Shwam understands his team has started on a positive note, but as Wickham mentioned, staying on track is what he believes will make them even bigger competitors down the stretch.

“Staying focused will be the key,” Shwam said. “You have to stay on top of things throughout the entire season not just at the start, it’s how you battle day in and day out that will help you succeed.

As the season continues to roll on, the RailRiders will undoubtedly have their ups and downs, but with great coaching and consistent play in both facets of the game, Victor will have as good a chance as any to stay competitive, something they believe will be a large part to their success in year one.

“We have good players from all over the country including some home grown talent,” Ludwig said. “It will be fun to see all of our players match skills against the rest of the league as the summer brings high levels of baseball.”

With the town of Victor playing another major role in the RailRiders success, expect to see a lot of energy around the club this summer. Being a town that has rich baseball history, Ludwig knows Victor is a place that has a lot to offer.

“Victor is a place that has a lot to do for visitors in the summer months. RailRider baseball will be another great entertainment option for Finger Lake visitors.”

While educating the fans may become the main theme in the early portion of the season, the RailRiders front office firmly believes they can spread the word of RailRiders Baseball quickly. With fan support from around the area learning about RailRiders baseball, it is only a matter of time before crowds start to emerge and the team settles into its new home.

“As a team, we are just taking it one game at a time,” Wickham said. “Over a long season if we compete day in day out, then we will find ourselves putting together a lot of wins.”

With a strong mentality that seems to have formed around the town and team in Victor, it is only a matter of time before the team shows its full potential in a league that tests your abilities day in and day out.

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