PC: Saugerties Stallions
The 2016 PGCBL season was action-packed and yet another one to remember.
“2016 was a great year on and off the field. We eclipsed the previous league attendance record and successfully brought in three new teams to the league. We continue to grow and look forward to making 2017 even better for our fans,” said PGCBL President Jeff Kunion.
Let’s take a look back at the season that was:
The 2016 season featured three new teams in the league: the Geneva Red Wings (West), the Jamestown Jammers (West) and the Oneonta Outlaws (East). The 50-game regular season was exactly two months long, starting on June 1 and ending on July 31.
A year after setting a PGCBL record with 40 wins in the regular season, the Amsterdam Mohawks again finished with the best regular season record at 34-15, winning the East Division. In the West, the Elmira Pioneers won their second straight division title with a 33-15 record.
Many teams didn’t have their complete rosters until mid-June because of players’ involvement in NCAA regionals and the level of play was astounding for the last month and a half of the regular season. Those skillful players were on display at the 2016 PGCBL All-Star Game, which was hosted at Bob Bellizzi Field in Albany. The East Division remained undefeated in All-Star Game play with a 9-1 win over the West Division. Robbie Knightes of the Glens Falls Dragons took home All-Star Game MVP, capping off a great night for the Dragons after teammate Chris Kwitzer won the Home Run Derby.
With an additional playoff team added for this season, the playoff race was in full force all the way until the last day of the regular season.
Batting average: Chris Givin, Amsterdam (.383)
Hits: JJ Shimko, Albany, and Hunter Jones, Jamestown (57)
Doubles: Ben Brookover, Jamestown (18)
Triples: Taylor Olmstead, Utica, and Chris Sharpe, Newark (7)
Home runs: Joe Genord, Amsterdam (7)
RBIs: Joe Genord, Amsterdam (45)
Walks: Alex Thrower, Saugerties (46)
On-base percentage: Alex Thrower, Saugerties (.535)
OPS: Chris Kwitzer, Glens Falls (1.016)
Stolen bases: JJ Shimko, Albany; Joe Spitaleri, Utica; and Alex Thrower, Saugerties (28)
Runs Created: Joe Genord, Amsterdam (32.967)
ERA: Cameron Enck, Amsterdam (0.39)
Wins: Joe DeSarro, Mohawk Valley (7)
Strikeouts: Brennen Smith, Victor, and Bryan Warzek, Glens Falls (52)
Saves: Zachary Vennaro, Mohawk Valley, and Brian Dolan, Newark (9)
Innings pitched: Joe DeSarro, Mohawk Valley (61)
WHIP: Austin Keen, Amsterdam (1.03)
Batting average against: Brennen Smith, Victor (.157)
Batting average: Jamestown (.278)
Runs: Jamestown (303)
Hits: Jamestown (474)
Doubles: Jamestown (87)
Triples: Oneonta (27)
Home runs: Amsterdam (30)
RBIs: Jamestown (248)
Walks: Jamestown (236)
On-base percentage: Jamestown (.379)
OPS: Amsterdam (.761)
Stolen bases: Albany (119)
ERA: Albany (2.69)
Strikeouts: Amsterdam (403)
Saves: Jamestown, Mohawk Valley and Albany (16)
WHIP: Amsterdam (1.26)
Batting average against: Amsterdam (.215)
With the new playoff system, it was do-or-die for all eight playoff teams as the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds squared off in a one-game playoff for the first time in league history as the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds also had one game determine their fate.
In the East, each one-game playoff was postponed due to rain but when the games were played, No. 1 Amsterdam dominated No. 4 Oneonta in an 8-1 game while No. 2 Albany walked off against No. 3 Mohawk Valley, eliminating the defending PGCBL champions. In the West, No. 2 Utica beat No. 3 Jamestown, 3-1, while No. 1 Elmira topped No. 4 Newark, 5-2, to advance to the West Division Championship Series.
Both division championship series featured the No. 1 seed against the No. 2 seed and eventually went to a decisive third game. In the Elmira-Utica series, the Pioneers were again upset in the West Division Championship Series, losing two games at home, including Game Three. Over in the East, Amsterdam won Game One, 8-4, but Albany answered the following night with a 4-3 walkoff win in Game Two. Amsterdam won the decisive third game, 4-1, to advance to the PGCBL Championship Series against the Blue Sox.
The Mohawks won Game One, 9-2, with a comeback that featured seven runs in the middle innings. A win away from their fourth league championship, the Mohawks didn’t disappoint in front of their home fans in Game Two. Amsterdam scored three runs in the third inning and didn’t look back to beat the Blue Sox, 13-2, to win the championship yet again.
Blake Nation of the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs was selected as the Coach of the Year. Nation guided the defending champion DiamondDawgs to a 27-20 record, continuing the streak of Mohawk Valley playoff appearances with Nation at the helm. The DiamondDawgs finished in third place in the East Division before losing to the Albany Dutchmen in the East Division semifinals. The DiamondDawgs, who posted a 15-8 home record, went 25-1 when leading after seven innings, the best mark in the league, and were one of five teams to have a winning percentage above .500 in one-run games.
Joe Genord of the Amsterdam Mohawks was selected as the Player of the Year. Genord hit .296 on the season and led the league with seven home runs and a PGCBL record 45 RBIs. He stole five bases, drew 30 walks and anchored a lineup that led Amsterdam to its fourth championship in five years. Outside of the Triple Crown categories, Genord hit 14 doubles and also scored 32 runs. His .942 OPS was in the top five of the league among qualifiers. The South Florida product’s 32.967 Runs Created led the league and his SECA (secondary average) of .447 was also among the league leaders.
Joe DeSarro of the Mohawk Valley DiamondDawgs and Brennen Smith of the Victor RailRiders were selected as Co-Pitchers of the Year. DeSarro led a Mohawk Valley pitching staff that won 27 games this season. He led the league with seven wins, which tied a league record. His 61 innings pitched also led the league and is the second-most in PGCBL history. The right-hander had a 2.80 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. Opponents hit just .231 against him and he he struck out 46 batters, which was top 10 in the league. The Herkimer product went 7-0 in his final eight appearances. He allowed no more than two earned runs in any of those games. Smith finished in the top three in each pitching Triple Crown category. The lefty tied for the league lead with 52 strikeouts, posted a 1.06 ERA and won four games. The 1.06 ERA is the fourth lowest ERA in PGCBL history. Smith appeared in 13 games (seven starts) this season for Victor.
The All-League team can be found here
Be sure to keep checking pgcbl.com, which will soon be getting a redesign, for announcements regarding the 2017 season.
The PGCBL is affiliated with Perfect Game, the largest independent scouting service in the country. Last year, more than 1,400 professional players had either worn the uniform of a PGCBL team or participated in a Perfect Game event.
For more information about the PGCBL, visit www.pgcbl.com and follow the league on Twitter, @PGCBLbaseball.