By: Jason Palatsky
(ALBANY, NY)-- The 2023 Albany Dutchmen season kicked off a new chapter in the Dutchmen history book, as for the first time since 2010 the team was not led by Nick Davey, who stepped down from his post after the 2022 campaign. Stepping into the head role was one of Davey’s assistants in his final summer with the Dutchmen, Jordan Bernacet.
After the Dutchmen stumbled to a 7-14 record in the first calendar month of the season that was marred by rainouts- and a smokeout- that prevented the Dutchmen from building any momentum, things turned around in the month of July. Albany went 14-6 in the regular season in the month of July, featured by a season-long five game win streak that propelled them to a 10-3 record in the final two and a half weeks and a return to the PGCBL postseason.
Highlighting the Dutchmen’s roster was 2023 Dutchmen Player of the Year and PGCBL All-Star Selection Vince Venditti (St. Rose), and 2023 Dutchmen Co-Pitchers of the Year CJ Kuentzel (Iona) and Derek Duval (Florence-Darlington Tech). David James (USC Upstate) was also tabbed a midseason All-Star selection by the league.
After suffering a loss on Opening Night on the road to the defending PGCBL champion Amsterdam Mohawks, Albany returned to kick off their third summer at Dutchmen Field two nights later with a big doubleheader sweep over the Watertown Rapids. The Dutchmen kicked things off with a bang, run-ruling the Rapids in game one, which was highlighted by an eight-run bottom of the sixth and a “walkoff” double from Venditti, who also powered the first Dutchmen homer of the summer in that game. Albany kept things rolling right into game two, using two first inning runs to propel them to a 6-3 victory. Albany ended up totaling 19 runs and 23 hits that evening. The Dutchmen returned home two nights later and picked up another run-rule victory, this time against the Glens Falls Dragons, in another contest that saw Albany score 13 runs.
While Albany struggled to find their footing the rest of the month, one of the biggest wins of the entire summer came on June 15th. Facing an 8-1 deficit through six innings to the Saugerties Stallions, a team they saw six times in a three week stretch in June (with a seventh contest rained out), the Dutchmen pieced together seven runs in the final three innings to pick up the comeback victory. Albany got three in the seventh off a single from Brody Keneston (Le Moyne), a fielder’s choice, and a sacrifice fly, before another Keneston single, a wild pitch, and another fielder’s choice gave the Dutchmen three more in the eighth. In the ninth, Anthony Paskell (Rider) would show off his baserunning abilities for the first time this summer, hustling home from third on a chopper to the third baseman and sliding around a tag to tie the game. Venditti would bat next and deliver again, following with his game-winning double to left. Keneston would put a bow on things in the bottom of the ninth, making his second of identical web gems for the final out, tracking a foul ball to the fence from his third base position and extending well over to make an outstanding grab.
June 15th would also turn out to be a monumental day in Dutchmen history, as Dutchmen legend ‘12/’13/’15 Zach Remillard received his first call to the Major Leagues after spending eight years in the Chicago White Sox minor league system. Two days later, he would have a historic MLB Debut. Remillard became the first player in American League history to come off the bench in his MLB Debut and reach base 4+ times, and became the first player in the modern era (since 1901) to have both a game-tying hit and a go-ahead hit in the 9th inning or later of his MLB Debut in the Sox 4-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners. Remillard would blast his first Major League home run July 23rd in Minnesota, and continues to be a regular in the White Sox lineup.
The Dutchmen struggled to a 2-9 record in the back half of June, but when the calendar flipped, so did the proverbial switch. Albany kicked off July with a tightly contested 2-1 victory over Utica on the 2nd, and wound up going 4-2 in the first week. One of the top highlights of the Dutchmen season came that Saturday, when Paskell stole home in a game with the Stallions.
One of the lowest points a team can face is being no-hit, but after the Dutchmen were done so July 11th at Amsterdam, it seemingly lit the spark for the season-finishing rally. The next night, the Dutchmen picked up a thrilling 7-6 victory over the Stallions, putting up three runs in the bottom of the eighth to secure the victory in one of the biggest nights of the summer, as the Dutchmen hosted and recognized each team participating that week in the 10U Cal Ripken Mid-Atlantic Regional hosted by Guilderland Baseball that night. Albany then proceeded on a four-game road trip to Oneonta (doubleheader), Mohawk Valley, and Watertown, in which they went a perfect 4-0 to give them their season-long five game win streak.
In the thick of the playoff push heading into the final week and a half of the regular season, Albany had a big challenge with first place Amsterdam waiting for their return to Dutchmen Field. After the hosts dropped game one of the doubleheader, a combined one-hitter from Andrew Dongelewic (St. Rose), Devin Campbell (Oswego), Venditti, and Duval led the Dutchmen to a shutout victory over the Mohawks in game two. Albany rounded out the week with another run-rule victory over Glens Falls behind three-RBI nights from Tyler Kipp (Fairfield) and Josh Foglia (St. Rose) and a doubleheader split with the Boonville Lumberjacks.
Bad weather reared its ugly head again in the final week. Albany traveled to Amsterdam on Monday the 24th and only completed three innings before a storm came on and washed out the remainder of the contest. The Dutchmen run-ruled Glens Falls again the next night in the home finale in large part to Will Binder’s (UAlbany) 3-for-3 night with three runs batted in to wrap up the home slate in a big way, and split a doubleheader in Utica that Wednesday before the final two regular season contests were rained out.
The exceptional baseball played in July and the hot finish to the regular season pushed the Dutchmen into the PGCBL Playoffs for the first time since 2019. Albany drew a first round matchup with their most familiar of foes in 2023, the Saugerties Stallions, and would travel to Cantine Field for the 4-5 East Division matchup. After three days off to end the regular season thanks to the two rainouts, Albany’s offense took seven innings to fully come to life, but by then it was already a 4-0 deficit. The Dutchmen clawed back to make it 4-3 as the seventh inning stretch was hit, but their lone baserunner in the final two innings would be left stranded, and the season would come to a close.
The organization would like to thank all those that contributed to another successful summer. The Dutchmen would like to point out the contributions of the fans, players, coaches, host families, host family coordinator Liz Egan, interns, Guilderland Baseball, and the Town of Guilderland, and appreciate all their efforts that helped them have another fantastic year.
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