Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam's Julian Gallup pitches during baseball practice Wednesday at the Bacon Recreation Center.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam's Keny Ribot-Diaz prepares to take batting practice Wednesday at the Bacon Recreation Center.
Adam Shinder/Recorder staff Amsterdam's Brett Flint, left, talks to catchers Eric Robertshaw, center, and Anthony Noce, right, during a break in Wednesday's practice at the Bacon Recreation Center.
By ADAM SHINDER
Julian Gallup, Andrew Rouse and Kolbie Glionna have waited a long time to get to this season. After two years of watching their baseball seasons end in the exact same fashion, they're ready to enact a little change.
As the members of the senior trio each enter their third season as starters for the Amsterdam High School baseball season with the previous two having been cut short by first round playoff losses to Queensbury in the Section II Class A playoffs, the message this time around is simple. The Rams want to be playing as deep into May and June as they can, and they believe they've got the talent to make that happen.
"That should be everyone's goal," Glionna said during Wednesday's practice at the Bacon Recreation Center. "If that's not the goal for everyone here, what are we doing? We've got to work hard and we've got to get to where we want."
Gallup, Rouse and Glionna are the headliners on a team that boasts seven returning seniors on head coach Brian Spagnola's 16-player roster. Gallup and Rouse each hit better than .400 in 2013, while Glionna served as the team's cleanup hitter and is coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee suffered during football season.
With that trio, plus returning starters Jonardy Anil, Eric Robertshaw and Jared Gallup, Spagnola has a veteran core to lean on, though he said their would likely be some turnover in the Rams' lineup by the time the team is scheduled to open its season April 7 at Christian Brothers Academy.
"We've been happy with what we have," Spagnola said. "I think we'll have some young guys in the lineup, too. Our opening day lineup could have three sophomores in the starting lineup. We'll be young and we'll have some growing pains, even though we're a veteran team."
Though the Rams return plenty of experience at the plate and in the field, they're lacking with front-end pitching experience in a season that could open with Amsterdam playing home games at Fulton-Montgomery Community College due to work at Shuttleworth Park. The graduation of Dylan Angelo and Zach Dufel mean the graduation of nearly 75 percent of the pitching load from 2013, with Gallup and Glionna having combined to toss just 29 1/3 innings a season ago.
That means the likes of varsity newcomers Tony Isabel, Brady McGillin, Ben Rhodes and Kyle Sherlock will be looked upon to immediately step into the rotation.
"We've thrown strikes in here," Spagnola said. "We don't have people that are gonna go out and throw the ball by guys, that's for sure, but I think our defense will be good and, so far, I think we've thrown strikes. If we do that and make teams put the ball in play, we'll see what happens."
Gallup, who posted a 2.75 earned run average in 20 1/3 innings in 2013, is confident the Rams' pitching staff can mesh quickly.
"I feel like these kids are gonna grow up quick," said Gallup, who is headed to Niagara University on a baseball scholarship. "Isabel and Sherlock are gonna be big parts of our rotation -- Rhodes, too. I feel like they're ready to step up."
Even stuck indoors throughout the entire preseason -- the Rams are scheduled to go downstate Saturday for a scrimmage with Marlboro that's up in the air due to weather concerns -- the one thing Spagnola's been most impressed with is his team's continued focus.
"We've got a group of guys that get up at 6:30 a.m., work out at Alpin Haus Fitness Center, then come to school and come to practice," Spagnola said. "It's a really dedicated group, really focused. It's nice to have a group of guys that when they come to practice, there's never a moment when they're not focused or not working hard."
And so much of that can be contributed to a group of veterans who have played together since they first put on baseball gloves and are aiming to close their high school careers on a high note.
"We've been playing since Little League together on the same teams," Rouse said. "Me and Kolbie go back to Hagaman baseball together. From Little League, to ENY (travel baseball), then we kind of separate in the summer, but now we're back at it again. It's good to be with them."
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