The defending AABC World Series and Twilight League Champion Albany Athletics return most of its championship team from 2016, and once again have their eyes set on the another World Series and League title.
“We have a group of guys on the 2017 team who are easily capable of repeating what was accomplished last season,” said GM/Head Coach Joe Altieri, now in his 22nd season. “There’s going to be great mix of veterans, second year players and a few rookies who will comprise the 2017 roster. We have big expectations if we can stay injury free and compete hard every night.”
The Athletics, who went 40-9 overall and 19-4 in the ATL last year, return 18 players from its 2016 campaign. Its the most they’ve ever returned from the previous season. Veterans Dan Barbero, Craig Mastroianni, JJ Pearsall, Ben Paniccia and Pat Landers return as the only remaining members of the 2012 World Champions who won in Port Lucie, FL on Barbero’s 9th inning walk-off home run. Along with those players, Chris Salamida and Cam Overbaugh return who both possess outstanding defensive skills and are the fastest players on the team. Both were Team MVP’s in the last two years and will be at or near the top of the lineup. Former League MVP Nate Novak will return to play third base this year while another Team MVP Ryan Henchey will come back as the starting right fielder or catcher. Greg Sulz, Alex Jurczynski and a pair of Southern Vermont graduates, RJ Pingitore and Cody LaBadia, return for their second season as key players.
The pitching is loaded again with 10 rostered returnees including League All Stars Salamida, Pearsall and Ryan Harper. Fireballer Zach Breen in addition to Mitch Forshey, Nick Bird, and Dylan Cummiskey return for their second seasons. Newcomers Matt Snyder, a Kentucky graduate, and Joe Pokrentowski, a Saint Rose graduate, are expected to take on big starts at the front end of the rotation as well.
The season will be highlighted by the 18th Annual Baseball Fest, a Coaches vs Cancer event that the A’s host on June 23-25, in addition to a trip Brewster, MA to play a game against the Cape Cod League’s Brewster Whitecaps on June 12th. The A’s have also joined the Super League, a newly formed league with teams from Westchester, New York City, Long Island and Massachusetts to enhance its non-league schedule.
“This is the most competitive, demanding schedule we’ve ever had,” said Altieri, who broke the ATL’s managerial wins record in 2014. “This schedule should challenge us, make us better, and prepare us for the postseason. Its also exciting to play in the new Super League against a new crop of teams.”
The A’s started 2016 with a 3-2 record and reeled off 18 straight wins at one point but had to chase down first place until early July when they finally leaped over the Bluehawks and captured the regular season Twilight title. They then swept through the League semifinals and finals for its 7th championship with Pingitore earning playoff MVP honors. They followed with a one-game State Championship victory when Bryan Carr tossed a no-hitter then made their 5th trip to the AABC World Series. It took the team two victories on the final day of the World Series over undefeated Watertown, CT to capture their second World Series title with Salamida and Overbaugh winning co-MVP awards.