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Opening Night

Jammers Face Off Against Saugerties At 7:05 To Begin Their 2017 Season

Jamestown Jammers head coach Anthony Barone, left, talks with members of his team during a workout earlier this week at Diethrick Park. P-J photos by Scott Kindberg

There is arguably nothing better than taking in a baseball game under the lights.

Tonight, local baseball fans will have that opportunity when the Jamestown Jammers kick off their second season in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League with a matchup at Diethrick Park against the Saugerties Stallions. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m.

Head coach Anthony Barone said players have been arriving over the past several days and the team has held workouts at Diethrick Park to prepare for the home opener as well.

“Guys have been coming in sporadically and we’re just trying to learn the system and get ready for (tonight’s) season opener,” Barone said. “Everything has been going pretty smooth so far. … It’s very difficult (only having a couple days to prepare). I mean, you don’t even get to know the guys off the field, really. They’re coming in, they take batting practice, you work them out, you make them as comfortable as can be in your organization. We do the best we can with the amount of time we have.”

According to Barone, having several returners from last year’s team, which qualified for the PGCBL playoffs out of the West Division with a record of 29-20, has made the quick transition somewhat easier.

Alex O’Donnell, who returns for his third year, fields a grounder. P-J photos by Scott Kindberg

Headlining the returning players from last summer are four all-stars: catcher Christ Conley (Canisius College), pitcher Cory Blessing (Ohio University), infielder Ben Brookover (University of Texas at San Antonio) and outfielder Skyler Valentine (University of Texas at San Antonio).

“It’s helped tremendously,” Barone emphasized. “Those guys know what to expect from me and they can sort of let the other guys in the clubhouse know our system and they can prepare those guys not only about (baseball), but about Jamestown itself. Show them the ropes. It’s not only about the baseball aspect of it. It’s really helpful to have guys back from last year who just know the community and what to expect.”

Another returning player, Bradley Griggs (University of Texas at San Antonio), will toe the rubber tonight.

The left-hander made eight starts for the Jammers in 2016 and recorded four wins and struck out a team-leading 46 batters in 43 innings of work.

“You can expect a very athletic left-handed pitcher,” Barone stressed. “His fastball will work 90-92 and he’s an extremely talented young man. He needs to figure out a little bit about the mental part of the game, but when he’s on, he’s unhittable. We’re really excited to see Brad’s progress from last year to this year. We actually had a nice conversation (Wednesday night), me and Brad, about him (potentially) being one of the best pitchers in this league this summer. He’s very capable. Just excited to see him on the mound again for us.”

The Saugerties Stallions, a member of the PGCBL East Division, are coming off of a 2016 campaign in which they compiled an overall record of 14-34.

“It’s nice to play a team from the other division,” Barone explained. “We know Saugerties is going to battle, just from looking at last year’s scores and statistics. They’re a team that’s in every game. They’re going to fight you all the way through nine innings. They’re well-coached. (It’s) a great ownership group over there. …The product they’re going to put on the field is very good.”

When it comes down to it, Barone and his players are certainly looking forward to getting the season underway.

“Any season opener is special, especially when you’re at home,” Barone said. “…I’ve been waiting for this since the last pitch against (the Utica Blue Sox) in the playoffs last year. Just to get a chance to bring Jamestown a championship. … ROC Ventures, MKE Sports & Entertainment, with Mike Zimmerman as our owner and Dan Kuenzi as vice president, those guys have been so supportive of our franchise and baseball here in Jamestown. And, you know, they give us everything we need to win a championship. They treat our guys great and the coaching staff great. They really deserve a championship as well as the city does.”

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