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Shuttleworth, FMCC host first Empire Prospect Games series

The Adirondack Region Class of 2018 team broke open a close game with the Central Region team for a 9-1 victory Sunday night at Shuttleworth Park to bring home the gold medal in the youngest division of the first annual Empire State Prospect Games. The win capped a weekend in which the Adirondack Region medaled in all three divisions of a baseball tournament that not even Mother Nature could stop from completing.

“Other than the storms Friday and a little fog this morning that caused a delay, it couldn’t have been better,” said the games organizer Brian Spagnola. “People were impressed with the community and how well the event was organized.”

Over 230 players from high schools in four different regions (Adirondack, Central NY, Western NY, and Hudson Valley/ NYC) were grouped in three classes (2016, 2017, 2018) over the three day weekend event that was held at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam, NY, and at Fulton Montgomery Community College (FMCC) in Johnstown, NY. Each team played three games with the team that had the best record at the end of pool play taking home the gold medal, and the second place team earning silver. Both sites hosted three games on Friday and four games on Saturday, with Sunday’s games all taking place at Shuttleworth Park. There was plenty of drama in the final games of both the classes of 2016 and 2017 on Saturday night.

“Both games were one run games,” Spagnola said. “Bottom of the ninth inning, bases loaded and each one ended with a strikeout.”

The Adirondack Region Class of 2017 team that included Amsterdam High School’s Dale Stanavich took home the gold medal with the Western Region team earning the silver. The teams traded places for the Class of 2016 with the Western Region bringing home gold and the Adirondack Region taking silver. The Adirondack Region Class of 2018 team entered their final contest with the Central Region team having won their first two games and needed a win to wrap up the gold.

Adirondack and Central were locked in a scoreless dual through three innings before Central broke through with a run off a balk in the top of the fourth. Adirondack tied things up with a run scoring single off the bat of Nicholas Marola (Scotia-Glenville HS) in their half of the inning. Adirondack broke out the bats and scored six runs in the fifth with big hits coming from Devan Kruziniski and Ryan McGee (Colonie HS), David Montalvo (Bethlehem HS), and Lewis Clarke (Saratoga Springs HS). Adirondack added two more runs in the seventh to back the four hit pitching that included hurlers Salvatore Fusco and Kyle Lambert (Colonie HS).

“I’ve been watching kids play at this age and there’s a lot of talent,” said Adirondack 2018 coach Dan Sausville. “I picked this team and tried to find the best players, but they really don’t need that much coaching. The talent takes care of itself. The future is bright for baseball.”

The win gave the Adirondack Region two golds and one silver medal for the games. The Western New York Region finished with one gold and one silver, and the Hudson Valley/ New York City Region earned a silver in the Class of 2018 group. The Hudson Valley/ NYC Class of 2018 team also featured three of the youngest players in the games. Several players from the Adirondack area joined the Hudson Valley/NYC teams to help them fill their rosters. Among them were Jack Wyatt and Dereck Haughey of Burnt Hills- Ballston Lake High School, and Amsterdam High School’s Trey Ausfeld. The three will graduate in 2019. Ausfeld played shortstop in the team’s final game against Adirondack.

“It was a good experience,” Ausfeld said. “There’s a lot of talented kids here. We really don’t get to play against teams from Syracuse and New York City during high school, so it was nice to see how they play the game and how they compete.”

Ausfeld’s team finished 2-1 in the games with their only loss a 13-7 game against Adirondack. Ausfeld picks up a silver medal and could earn more during his high school career. The Amsterdam High School incoming freshman also had a chance to show his skills in front of 44 college coaches.

“For a first year event, getting 44 college coaches to attend was pretty good,” Spagnola said. “The coach from Boston College said that events that have been running for ten years don’t get 44 coaches to attend. The coaches left with more names from here than any event they went to all summer.”

Spagnola estimated that approximately 1,000 people attended the games over the the three days. Many parents, fans and coaches were in attendance during Sunday nights’ finale as well.

“The talent was great,” Spagnola said. “Parents were thrilled that their kids were getting looked at by 44 college coaches.”

The idea of the Prospect Games came about when the Empire State Games folded in 2009. For the Empire State Prospect Games to continue it will depend on the commitment of the communities, players and coaches to make it happen.

“It’s one hundred percent that I would coach this group again,” said Coach Sausville. “I’d jump at the chance to coach a group like this again.”

The 2015 Empire State Prospect Games were held to benefit Childhood Cancer Causes. Corporate partners for the event were Anaconda Sports, D-Bat, Lids Team Sports, and Zephyr ‘The ‘Z’ Hat. Restaurant partners included; The Recovery Sports Grill, Dan’s Backyard BBQ, and the 518 Grille.

For more information and photos on the games go to their website at www.empirestateprospectgames.com.

About Scott Mulford

Scott Mulford has been covering local sports for over 20 years. He previously wrote for the Amsterdam Star and The Free Press of the Mohawk Valley.

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