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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 14, 2008

Local baseball players experience the “big time” in Albuquerque

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– Winning the Eastern New York Travel Baseball League’s AABC tournament wasn’t the end of the road for the New York Capital District Knights 17 and under baseball team.

The street led all the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The team took its 11-6 record to the Southwest to represent Eastern New York in the Don Mattingly AABC World Series on July 28.

The weather was hot, and the competition even hotter. “The collection of teams we faced was outstanding, some real talent,” said Manager Robert Nolan. “What also made it tough was the 100-plus degree weather and the 5,000-foot altitude.”

The Knights played four games in total, suffering a loss in each. It faced the Albuquerque Baseball Academy, Colorado Rockies, California Blue Wave, and Mckinley Texas Marshalls.

Sixteen teams from all over the country got an invitation. The first two games determined seeding for the double-elimination tournament. The Knights ended up with the 15 seed.

Despite the losses, the experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity. “We played on a spectacular field and had plenty of sight-seeing during the week,” said Nolan. “There was a nice opening dinner for all the teams. A recruiter from the California Angels took the stage and talked about scholarships in baseball.”

C.J. Lozano, 17, of Guilderland, pitched one game, played outfield and second base. He is a pitcher for the Dutchmen. “All four games were really tight,” he said.

Like Nolan, Lozano saw the experience of the other teams. “All the kids we faced could really crush the ball,” he said. “The other teams play five times as much as we do and they face so much more pitching then we do. Even players off the bench were getting huge hits.”

Lozano said that his team got off to slow starts in the first two games, but it eventually came around to make things close. “We were a little rusty from the travel,” he said. “However, as the games got deeper, we were hitting as well as our opponents. We had a lot of patience to help us score runs and stay in the game.”

Most of the teams stayed in the same hotel, which made for much interaction during the evenings. “We made friends with the other players. We talked about each of our seasons and baseball in general,” said Lozano.

For Nolan, pitching was most important in the tournament. “When you go to these games, pitching is the biggest factor,” he said. “The hitters we faced kept on making contact in these see-saw games. All of a sudden, you’re down by three runs.”

Overall, The Knights got a thrill from playing on such a huge platform. “I’m pretty sure this was a first for all of us,” said Lozano. “We played in a big stadium and you know that scouts are out there, watching closely. It was a really cool atmosphere.”

Nolan and his coaching staff will be holding tryouts for next season at Central Park in Schenectady on Aug. 16 and 17 at 1 p.m. Players 22 years old and under are welcome.

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