(ALBANY, NY)-- Will Binder (UAlbany) and CJ Kuentzel (Iona University) have been named the Week #8 Spotlight Co-Players of the Week presented by Bellini’s Counter. Kuentzel’s selection makes it two consecutive weeks that he has been named Dutchmen Spotlight Co-Player of the Week (JT Vance, Mississippi College, in Week #7).
For the week of July 17th through July 23rd, Binder went 5-for-11 (.455) with one home run, four runs batted in, six runs, five walks, one hit by pitch, and three stolen bases in four of the six Dutchmen games he played during the week. A mid-season addition to the Albany roster, his .455 average, .625 on-base percentage and .727 slugging percentage in those four games helped raise his average 121 points, OBP 150 points, and slugging percentage 212 points.
“I felt like I was seeing the ball really well this past week,” Binder said. “I felt disciplined, able to take bad pitches and swing at good ones, which allowed me to get on base a lot.”
Kuentzel continued his dominant summer of baseball July 21st in Glens Falls, when he threw five shutout innings en route to his third victory of the summer. His first win also came against Glens Falls, another five shutout inning performance on June 23rd, when he struck out what was a season-high six batters. He bested that number this time around, picking up a season-best eight strikeouts in his start, and his third win moved him into a tie for the team lead with Week #4 Player of the Week David James (USC Upstate).
“I just tried to go out there and attack (Glens Falls),” Kuentzel said. “I pitched against them before, and I just tried to go after them again.”
Binder arrived -or returned, depending on how you look at it- to Albany on July 6th, making his Dutchmen debut in game two of the doubleheader that night with Glens Falls. He reached base safely at least once in his first three games before not reaching in his next four, but a 2-for-2 game with a run batted in and a walk on July 20th against Amsterdam kickstarted a big week for the Great Dane. The next night, he demolished his first home run of the summer way over the left field fence in Glens Falls.
“I was able to catch that pitch out in front. The pitcher threw it right in my wheelhouse and threw exactly the pitch I was looking for.”
Some of his Dutchmen teammates were calling it the farthest home run they’ve ever seen hit by someone with a wood bat in the collegiate ranks.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” Binder laughed. “Easily the farthest ball I’ve ever hit with a wood bat.”
For Kuentzel, his five scoreless innings in his start on Friday extended his scoreless appearance streak to five and scoreless inning streak to 17.1. After two innings out of the bullpen on Opening Night in Amsterdam where he allowed five runs, it has been smooth sailing for the Colonie native after his return to the mound.
“I chalk up my first outing in Amsterdam to a little bit of rust after taking a couple weeks off,” Kuentzel noted about his Opening Night appearance. “Once I figured things out and got down the mound again, I’ve been feeling natural, feeling good, and got right back to myself.”
Albany currently sits in fifth in the East Division, firmly in the playoff picture, and kicks off the final week of the regular season Monday in Amsterdam with an opportunity to host a playoff game still in the realm of possibility. First pitch at Shuttleworth Park is set for 6:35. Tuesday is the home finale, another 6:35 start, this one with the Glens Falls Dragons, before a four-game road trip the rest of the week wraps up the regular season for the Dutchmen.
“Right now we’re playing with some good momentum- and a lot of energy,” Binder said about the team. “We’re heating up at the right time. I think we’ll have the opportunity to make a run.”