HR Derby a big deal for Mohawks


Recorder Sports Staff

Prior to the start of Monday's game against Albany, there was one thing the Amsterdam Mohawks chosen to play in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game in Newark were certain of: Each wanted to be the team's representative in the home run derby.

"I hope I do it. I wish I could," said a smiling shortstop John Sansone. "My vote's for me, definitely."

"I'd probably vote for myself, too," outfielder Jordan Ebert added.

Along with Ebert and Sansone, outfielder Kyle Barrett, first baseman John Nogowski, designated hitter Dylan Smith, starting pitcher Matt Snyder and closer Mike Urbanski will represent the Mohawks in the game. Playing for the East Division, the seven Mohawks will be coached by Mohawks head coach Keith Griffin.

The players heading to the game expressed excitement for the chance to play in the league's featured game.

"It's an honor," said Nogowski. "Anytime you get selected by the coaches, it really shows you play the game the right way and that hard work is paying off."

"I'm really excited to go," added Sansone. "It's going to be a great time.

Especially for Smith, who will represent the Mohawks in the home run derby. The slugger from Auburn earned the nod from Griffin, who saw no benefit to involving the democratic process in making the decision.

"Well, we didn't put it up to a vote," Griffin said.

On their own

While a host of Mohawks are busy today in Newark, most of Amsterdam's roster is enjoying another day off. The free Mohawks planned to use the time in a variety of ways:

* Starting pitcher Dylan Dwyer, a lefty from the University of Kentucky, said his plan for today was to go fishing at "that lake in Broadalbin." An avid fisherman, Dwyer said he planned to bring teammate Christian Bartholomew with him to the Great Sacandaga Lake in an attempt to catch walleye, a fish not found in Kentucky. Dwyer said he had caught some earlier in the summer, and was a little alarmed by the fish's teeth. "That was a little scary. I had to grab it by the gills," he said.

* Third baseman Brian Ruby, along with several other Mohawks, planned to rest up today after visiting Boston and Fenway Park on Tuesday. "If you're not playing, you might as well go watch," Ruby said.

* Relief pitcher Zach Quayle planned to use today to visit the Saratoga Race Course with family members and teammate Chris Kalica. Quayle -- who is staying in Johnstown with his grandmother, Betty Swierzowski -- has visited the track in the past because he has a segment of his family in Johnstown, and the Knoxville, Tenn. native has grown into a huge fan of the sport. He said his bet of choice is the Pick 4. "I think you get the most bang for the buck with that one," he said.

* Starting pitcher Trey Wingenter had the laziest plan of all. The Auburn right-hander said he is going to catch up on sleep in a big way. Given the freedom to do so, Wingenter said he can hibernate through half of a day without any problem. "I can do 12 hours of sleep, easy," he said.

New blood

In the past several days, the Mohawks have lost four players: infielder Ronnie Bernick, catcher Mark Brennan, pitcher Logan Fullmer and pitcher Matt Ternowchek. The two pitchers left for personal reasons, Brennan went home because of a balky right knee and Bernick left to get an early start on the rest of his summer.

The deadline to add new players to the roster who could be eligible to participate in the PGCBL playoffs was Monday at 11:59 p.m., and Amsterdam added pitchers Zach Breen and Thomas Young to its roster before the cut-off time. Breen pitched at Schenectady County Community College this past spring, while Young -- who was in uniform for Monday's game -- is a rising sophomore at Western Carolina.

Young had played in the Valley League earlier this summer before leaving his team to take some summer courses. With those complete, he got the offer Sunday to come to Amsterdam.

"Next thing I know, I'm up here," he said, Monday.

Griffin said the role for each of the new players is unclear. The coach said Breen is likely to work out of the bullpen, while Young could join him or act as a starter.

"I don't really mind, I'll do anything," said Young. "I just want to help the team. I don't really care as long as I'm throwing and helping."

Young did not appear in Monday's game and will likely get his first action Thursday or Friday. He said he expects to use his first few days in the area to get acclimated to his new surroundings.

"This is my first time up north, really," he said. "It's a bit of a culture shock."