Amsterdam’s Dale Stanavich pitches May 12 during the Foothills Council championship game in Queensbury. (Recorder file photo)
By ADAM SHINDER
In late July, Dale Stanavich was making preparations to begin his freshman year at Hudson Valley Community College, where he would look to build upon his successful baseball career at Amsterdam High School.
Then came July 26 and the Northeast Recruiting Showcase, the annual event run by Stanavich’s high school coach, Brian Spagnola, who always invites his standout players to show up and show their stuff for the three dozen or so college coaches who descend on Shuttleworth Park for the day.
Spagnola, also the president and general manager of the Amsterdam Mohawks, had long been pitching Stanavich to his coaching contacts in the Division I ranks, primarily as an outfielder whose speed and arm strength made him a stellar defensive prospect who had the potential to further develop his offensive game at the collegiate level.
At the showcase, it was Stanavich’s pitching that got him noticed.
“He showed flashes during the spring of being dominant — the game at CBA, most notably, and he took some strides throughout the summer,” Spagnola said. “At the showcase, I always invite my Amsterdam players to show up and try to help them any way we can. Dale showed up, and he threw off the plastic mound with turf shoes on and was hitting 85 to 87 (mph) and touching 88. And his slider’s good, some days it’s better, that day his slider was at its best. There were colleges whose eyes just popped open.”
That was July 26. Less than four weeks later, Stanavich and his family packed up the car in the wee hours of the morning following his older brother Brett’s wedding over the weekend and made the trek to Huntington, W. Va. Monday, he began his freshman year at Marshall University, where he’ll be a lefthanded pitcher for the Thundering Herd.
“This means a lot,” Stanavich said. “The campus here is beautiful, and everything they have to offer — academically and with the sport of baseball — is just amazing.”
Stanavich will be the fourth Amsterdam baseball player in the last four years to suit up for a Division I program, joining Andrew Rouse at Marist, Julian Gallup at Niagara and Ben Rhodes at Siena.
“Four in four years, I don’t know if even the big schools — Guilderland, Shen — I don’t know if any of them have four guys in four years playing Division I,” Spagnola said. “They might, but we’ve got to be up there, I would think.”
A three-year varsity player for the Rams, Stanavich worked to a sub-2.00 earned run average for his high school career while striking out more than a batter an inning and posting a stellar 15-3 record in 22 career appearances on the mound.
Stanavich’s showcase performance piqued the interest of a number of programs that were in attendance, most notably Maryland and Marshall. It was with Marshall and head coach Jeff Waggoner — a longtime acquaintance of Spagnola who coached with him as a graduate assistant at the College of Saint Rose in 2000 and who was an assistant for the then-Schenectady Mohawks in 1999 — where the situation worked out best.
“He loved him. He said he needed a lefty to throw out of the bullpen and thought it was a perfect fit,” Spagnola said.
It did require a fair bit of paperwork to get Stanavich in order to head down to Marshall, as he’d already made his plans to attend HVCC and had to go through not only Marshall’s admission process, but getting cleared by the NCAA.
“The process was kind of long, because we had to send all the paperwork to the school and do a lot of stuff with Hudson Valley, but now I’m here,” Stanavich said.
“We’ve worked a lot. Dale was planning on going to Hudson Valley, so he wasn’t registered with the (NCAA) clearinghouse and whatnot, so we did a lot of work in the last two weeks,” Spagnola said. “As of Tuesday, he just got accepted and got his room assignment. It was kind of a whirlwind couple weeks for him, but it’s great.”
The whirlwind week capped off for Stanavich after his brother’s wedding this weekend, which was followed by an early-morning trip to move into his new dorm and begin classes Monday.
For the opportunity he’s getting, Stanavich was more than willing to deal with a hectic couple of weeks.
“It meant a lot, knowing that there weren’t that many options before this and it just happened to work out,” he said. “It’s amazing, actually.”
And it enforces Spagnola’s belief — one he’s passing on to current up-and-coming talents like Jeffrey Brennan and Michael Rocas — that it only takes one day to get on the right person’s radar.
“I always tell these kids that it just takes one guy to see you one day that you’re good,” Spagnola said. “A lot of times, they’re there to see somebody else, even. Dale happened to throw good on a day there were a lot of colleges around.”