New SSHS Baseball Coach Optimistic About 2016 Season
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Even with a mild winter, it’s always a pleasure to hear that sound: The sound of the horsehide sphere popping into leather. For many of us, it’s the surest sound of spring – a time of renewal and optimism.
That’s especially true for Saratoga Springs High School Varsity Baseball Coach Andy Cuthbertson. He’s taking the reins of a seasoned squad – one that finished 20 – 6, captured the Section 2 championship in dramatic fashion against Shenendehowa, and a New York State Class AA finalist.
“To begin with, we’ve got half the team (10 players) returning,” Coach Cuthbertson said. “We’re battle-tested.” Some of the notable returning players he named are duel-threat senior Danny Coleman at 3B/P. Coleman had strong numbers at bat (.387 avg. /.507 slugging pct.), while winning 4 games on the mound. Junior Jake Fauler will utilize his speed, anchoring the outfield in center, and on the base paths, where he led the team in several key categories: 27 steals, 36 hits, .462 avg., and a .588 on-base percentage.
“I’m especially proud that many of our seniors have committed to college baseball programs,” Coach Cuthbertson said, sending out several names in succession. “Nick Kondo (2B -.359/.402) is committed to SUNY Albany; Pitchers Danny Hobbs (who led the team going 7-0 in 8 starts with an 0.88 ERA) and Shane Barringer (1.75 ERA) are headed to Siena; our anchor behind the plate, Catcher Brendan Coffey (.295/.321 while catching 168.1 of the team’s 180 innings) will be going to Sacred Heart; while Closer Cory McArthur (4 for 4 in save opportunities, 4-0 with 36 strikeouts and a 1.06 ERA) will be going to Division III Champ Cortland State,” he said.
The team won the Section 2, class AA crown in dramatic fashion last May 29, scoring a lone run in the first inning on Brendon Frank’s RBI single against Shen’s star pitcher Ian Anderson, with Hobbs and McArthur making it stand up, despite Hobbs suffering a line drive to the face in the fourth inning and McArthur pitching the final two innings for the save.
Coach Cuthbertson expects Anderson, now a senior, to be Saratoga’s biggest rival again. “It’s hard to look past him, with a mid-90s fastball,” he said. “He’s projected to be a number seven pick in the major league draft. This is great for our league.”
Last year, Cuthbertson was coached SSHS’s Modified team, and three-quarters of the way through the season was named an Assistant Varsity Coach. Before that, he was the Head Coach at Mohonasen High School from 2010-14, and an Assistant Coach at Springfield College for two seasons.
He also logged a stint as Pitching Coach (2005-9) for the Saratoga Phillies when it was part of the New York Collegiate Baseball League. “Those were good days. Many people don’t realize how rich the talent level was on those teams. We had three players from that team that made the Major Leagues - JD Martinez made the Detroit Tigers; Mike Fiers, a pitcher for the Houston Astros; and Darin Mastroianni on the Minnesota Twins,” he said.
Looking towards 2016 for Blue Streaks baseball: “Of course, we take things one game at a time, but I recognize and welcome the high expectations,” Coach Cuthbertson said. “Last year, our goal was to get to the Section Finals and see what happens. The next rounds (a state quarterfinal win against Cicero-North Syracuse and a semifinal over Orchard Park, before falling to Mamaroneck in the Class AA Final) were really a bonus.
“But we were right there in the State Final. With the seasoning and experience we gained, if we play our best game, there’s every reason to expect that our best will take us far.”
The team will be traveling to Florida for an invitational tournament next week. Saratoga Baseball opens league play on Wednesday, April 6, at 4:15 p.m. at East Side Rec. The team’s website is saratogabaseball.weebly.com