By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
After a one-year hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Oneonta Outlaws will return for a 2021 summer baseball season.
The team will again be part of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, competing in the Eastern Division.
The Outlaws will open the season Thursday, June 3, with a 7 p.m. game at Saugerties. The home opener will be at 7 p.m., Friday June 4, when Oneonta hosts Mohawk Valley at Damaschke Field in Oneonta’s Neahwa Park.
The Outlaws are scheduled to play 46 games in June and July, with half at home. The PGCBL has said some games may not be played if COVID protocols are required.
However, the team officials said they are optimistic about the season and the team’s ability to host fans for games.
Joe Hughes, Oneonta High School’s longtime baseball coach, returns to coach the Outlaws in 2021, with Eric Downey as his assistant coach.
“Any return to normalcy is good for the community and good for people in general,” Hughes said. “It’s like everything is moving in the right direction, so we look forward to having some baseball.”
The team features two Oneonta players, Tanner Beang and Keaton Mark, as well as former Gilboa pitcher Cole Fancher.
“It is good to have some local players,” Hughes said. “My former players at Oneonta are now playing well in college. Tanner Beang had a good year at Binghamton. Keaton Mark had a good year at the plate. Keaton could always hit well and he is still doing it in college.”
Beang, a 2018 OHS graduate, played at Binghamton University in 2021, after a year at College of Saint Rose. He was the Bearcats closer, pitching 10 times during the season, with a 4-0 record, one save and a 3.78 ERA.
Mark, a 2017 OHS graduate, finished his senior season this month at Heidelberg University in Tiffen, Ohio. He was named first team all-Ohio Athletic Conference in right field, where he started all 41 games this season for the Student Princes. Mark hit .396 with 15 doubles, 12 stolen bases, 40 RBI and a slugging percentage of .610.
Fancher, a 2018 Gilboa Central School graduate, has appeared in 19 games as a pitcher for Dominican College in Orangeburg. He was 1-1 in 2021, and is 7-1 with three saves in three seasons.
Other local players are Marcus Cashman from Norwich, who is playing at Niagara University and Anthony VanFossen from Endwell, who is playing at SUNY Oswego.
The Outlaws roster is filled with players who play at New York colleges, including Binghamton, Iona, Marist, Herkimer Community College and SUNY schools in Cobleskill and Oswego.
However, not all the players are local. Yuzuki Okamura, who started at catcher for Herkimer CC this season, is from Shiga, Japan.
“We’re excited to have him, especially because he is a catcher,” Hughes said.
“We have a good sampling of players from local colleges and various places around the country,” Hughes said. “We have some (NCAA) Division I players. We have a player from Yale. We have a player from Wofford, which is a good Division I program. And Binghamton is Division I, also.”
The early season will be hectic from Hughes, as OHS is still playing. The Section IV Class B baseball tournament is scheduled to take place June 8, 10 and 12, Hughes said, with seedings to be determined Saturday, June 5. Oneonta is 6-2 against Class B schools, Hughes said and should be guaranteed a playoff spot.
“For those 10 days or so, I’ll be trying to pull a rabbit out of my hat, trying to coach the Outlaws and the high school team at the same time,” Hughes said. “I’ll find a way to make it work.”
Go to www.oneontaoutlaws.com for more information.