JOHNSTOWN - A new era of baseball opens today at Fulton-Montgomery Community College.
Former Hudson Valley Community College coach and Amsterdam native Dave Hennessey takes over from longtime Raiders' skipper Mike Mulligan and is return FMCC to postseason play.
"From where we started in September, the team chemistry has come along great," Hennessey said. "By being hired so late in the year last year, I missed a recruiting season. I was able to grab some guys late that were going to go to Hudson Valley and they ended up coming with me here and we got a couple more in January."
Fulton-Montgomery Community College third baseman Owen Chizek tags Clinton Community College’s Jose Estol (8) out in the third inning of the first game of an April, 10, 2012, doubleheader at FMCC. (The Leader-Herald/James A. Ellis)
Hennessey comes to FM with an overall record of 165-93 in six seasons at HVCC. His teams were 4-time Mountain-Valley Conference Champions and Region III Champions in 2008, which garnered them a trip to the NJCAA College World Series. Hennessey guided the Vikings to the Region III Final Four in five of his six seasons at the helm. He was named Region III Coach of the Year in 2010 and Mountain Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 2008 and 2010.
During the fall season, the Raiders showed Hennessey that they are ready to battle for a title shot.
"Game one in the fall, a returning lefty who we thought was going to be on top of the rotation heard something pop in his elbow before he threw his first pitch," Hennessey said. "I had to bring in a freshman before the first pitch. He didn't get out of the first inning and I had to go get him after 51 pitches and one out. We gave up six runs there in the first inning but over the course of the day against Utica we came back playing one continuous 18-inning game, which we did eventually end up losing in 18."
The Raiders open their season today with the first of two trips south.
"We are playing Division II World Series teams," Hennessey said. "We are not going down to play northern teams down south. They are in game 25, in midseason form, pulling off hit-and-runs and doing things that we are going to have to be doing to be successful."
The Raiders coach said he is not focusing on the wins and losses during the road trip.
"Basically, what I want to see is us throwing strikes, having good at bats, hitting in the right counts and see what we are doing in those counts and fielding the ball," he said. "I am not so concerned about the wins and losses."
When the Raiders open Mountain-Valley Conference play at home on April 2 against Mohawk Valley, Hennessey believes that pitching will be a strength of the 2013 squad.
"I think we are going to be able to pitch a little bit," he said. "If we can stay away from walks, we are going to be OK. We demonstrated in the fall that we can swing the bat a little bit. The thing we are missing is depth just because of the short time for recruiting. There are some guys buying into what I am selling and there are some guys who are not here. That is kind of addition by subtraction. The guys are working hard and we just want to go and compete basically."
Hennessey will be looking for strong seasons from local players Greg Mosetti and Alex Vickery from Gloversville and Dylan Pechtel of Fort Plain.
They are joined on the roster by hard-throwing left-hander Matt Snyder from Colonie.
"He was red-shirted at Virginia Tech last year," Hennessey said. "The writing on the wall was that he was not going to pitch as much as he wanted to so he came home, looked for a school where he could pitch for a year and then we will try to move him on."