Barone named PGCBL’s top coach

UTICA — The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League announced that Anthony Barone as the 2018 PGCBL Coach of the Year.

Barone, the head coach of the Jamestown Jammers, was selected as the Coach of the Year for the second season in a row, and earns the honor via a vote of his peers.

Barone has been the head coach of the Jammers since the franchise’s inception in summer collegiate baseball, and has been with the team in the PGCBL since 2016. In those three seasons, the Jammers have totalled 94 wins, have qualified for the PGCBL Playoffs every season, and have played in back-to-back PGCBL Finals. The head Jammer is the first coach in PGCBL history to win the Coach of the Year award twice.

This season, the Jammers posted the best record in the PGCBL, going 31-14. The team started the season 18-4 in the month of June, and were nearly unbeatable at home, winning 16 consecutive home games. Jamestown was the first team in the league to lock up a playoff spot, winning the West Division by nine games. That record gave Jamestown the top overall seed in the PGCBL playoffs, where the Jammers knocked off the Geneva Red Wings in three games to go back to the PGCBL finals.

In the finals, which were played at Shuttleworth Park, Barone led his team to a 2-1 series victory over the Amsterdam Mohawks to provide the city of Jamestown with their first baseball champion since the 1991 Jamestown Expos won the New York-Penn League. The three-game victory over the Mohawks avenged the end of the 2017 season, where the Jammers lost a Game 3 to the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs. 

After winning the PGCBL championship in Amsterdam, Barone spoke of what it meant to bring a championship to a city he calls home.

“I’m so happy for the city of Jamestown,” Barone said. “Any time you can do something special like this for a city like Jamestown, it means a lot.”

During the regular season, the Jammers ranked in the top three in the league in pitching and defense, recording a 4.34 team ERA and a .966 team fielding percentage.

At the plate, Jamestown specialized in getting on base and turning those opportunities into runs. Despite finishing eighth in the league in batting average, the Jammers were one of only four teams to score 300 or more runs, and finished third in on base percentage. The Jammers also specialized in the dramatic, clinching the division title on a walk-off, and doing the same in Game 1 of both the PGCBL semifinals and the PGCBL finals.

Toohers named PGCBL Player of the Year

UTICA — The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League announced the selection of Ryan Toohers (Villanova) as the 2018 PGCBL Player of the Year. Toohers played for the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs during the 2018 season, and becomes the first Mohawk Valley player to win the award during the franchise’s tenure in the league. 

Toohers posted one of the most prolific offensive seasons in league history during his time in Little Falls, setting new PGCBL records in runs batted in (57) and total bases (106). In 41 games for the DiamondDawgs, Toohers hit .391 with 40 runs scored, 13 doubles, one triple, and 10 home runs. Toohers’ 10 home runs tied the PGCBL record, and made him just the third player in league history to hit 10 homers in a single season.

With 57 RBIs, Toohers became the first player in league history to drive in more than 50 runs, and broke a two-year old league record set by Joe Genord (South Florida) in 2016. His 106 total bases also made him the first player in the history of the PGCBL to record more than 100 total bases in a season – Utica’s Khalyd Cox (Savannah State) also acheived that milestone with 101 total bases.

On six different occasions during the season, Toohers drove in four or more runs for the DiamondDawgs. Those performances included six RBIs in a 19-15 victory over the Adirondack Trail Blazers on June 21, and two home runs and five RBIs in a 14-1 win over the Saugerties Stallions on July 2. In games where Toohers drove in multiple runs, the DiamondDawgs went 12-0.

League-wide, Toohers finished in the top two of most offensive categories, including batting average, home runs, RBIs, total bases, doubles, extra base hits, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. He won two of the league’s three triple crown categories, only missing out by finishing second in batting average to Dawg teammate Ryan Hernandez (San Jacinto CC). For his efforts, he was a starter in the PGCBL All-Star Game and a First Team All-PGCBL selection at first base.

During his sophomore season at Villanova, Toohers was an everyday presence in the lineup for the Wildcats. The first baseman hit .298 over 48 games, driving in 31 runs with 20 extra base hits. At one point in the season, he reached base in 19 consecutive games, and was honored as a first-team All-Big East selection.

Hazelwood named PGCBL’s top pitcher

UTICA — The Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League announced the selection of Mason Hazelwood (Kentucky) as the 2018 PGCBL Pitcher of the Year. Hazelwood, who played this summer for the Elmira Pioneers, was a unanimous selection for the award.

Hazelwood is the second Elmira Pioneer to win the PGCBL Pitcher of the Year award since the league’s inception, and the first to win it outright. In 2015, Kyano Cummings (Siena), who now plays professional baseball for the Evansville Otters of the Frontier League, shared the award with Amsterdam’s Zach Logue, who preceded Hazelwood at Kentucky. 

During his summer with the Pioneers, Hazelwood was utterly dominant, setting a new PGCBL record with 84 strikeouts. The Salvisa, Kentucky, native started eight games for Elmira, and came out of the bullpen three times. In his 50 innings on the mound, Hazelwood allowed just 35 hits and 19 walks, and held opposing hitters to a .189 batting average. For his efforts, he was selected to the PGCBL All-Star Game at midseason, which was held in Elmira. During the All-Star Game, Hazelwood tossed a perfect inning with three strikeouts.

Hazelwood ended his season with a 5-1 record and a 1.80 ERA. The earned run average was best among eligible pitchers in the PGCBL, and the win total tied Watertown’s Jack Buckley (Franklin and Marshall) and Albany’s Matt Pierce (Siena) for the league lead. The lefty was at his best during the final month of the season, going 4-0. The Pioneers won six of the seven games where Hazelwood appeared from July 3 to July 28.

The lefthander’s signature moment came at Dunn Field on July 22 against the eventual PGCBL champion Jamestown Jammers. In a 4-1 Elmira victory, Hazelwood struck out 16 of the 24 batters he faced, and allowed only two hits in seven scoreless innings. His 16-strikeout performance earned him the second of his two PGCBL Pitcher of the Week awards. On the season, the Wildcat struck out 10 or more hitters three times, all coming in Pioneer victories.

At Kentucky, Hazelwood appeared in 18 games during his freshman season, and struck out 19 hitters in 19 innings. He picked up his first collegiate victory on May 15 against Murray State, and did not allow a run in five of his last seven outings.