Staten Island Yankees 2016 Year in Review

Nick Solak  (Robert M. Pimpsner/RMP Sports Media, Inc.)

The 2016 season was a year of transition and prosperity for the Staten Island Yankees. Under veteran manager Dave Bialas, the Baby Bombers qualified for postseason play for the second consecutive season as the New York-Penn League’s wild-card finishing 3.5 games behind the Hudson Valley Renegades with a 44-31 record. Off the field, the club prepared to retire the Yankees team nickname and develop an identity of their own to attract a new legion of fans.

With a blend of recent draft picks and returning contributors, Staten Island set a franchise record with an 11-2 start and added to the history books during the first months of the season. Following a 20-inning marathon victory in Brooklyn in the season opener, pitchers Drew Finley and Josh Roeder combined for a ten-inning no-hitter in their first game at Richmond County Bank Ballpark. The no-hitter was the club’s first since Jason Arnold blanked the Vermont Expos in June 2001.

“It was an honor,” Roeder told Pinstriped Prospects. “It feels to a be a part of this organization and its history and to do this with one of my buddies Drew Finley, it’s a good feeling too. We went out there and did our job. We were successful in getting a no-hitter and now we are a part of history.”

Dominant pitching set the tone for Staten Island throughout the season, thanks to a rotation where 13 pitchers recorded at least one start. Kolton Mahoney, a key member of the pitching staff in 2015, emerged as the club’s ace with a 2.92 ERA in 61.2 innings and pitched a complete game shutout on July 31 against the Auburn Doubledays.

The rotation also received a boost in late June as former 3rd round draft pick and Foxboro native Austin DeCarr made a successful return from Tommy John Surgery. DeCarr took a few starts to regain his form but allowed just three runs in 19.2 innings between July 28 and August 18 showing marked improvement.

Other notable pitchers included Freicer Perez, a 6’8” righthander who stood tall making the jump from the Dominican Summer League and emerged as one of the organization’s top 30 prospects and Delaware alum Chad Martin, who went 4-0 in five late-season starts. Staten Island finished third in the NYPL with a 2.82 ERA and finished tied for first in the circuit with ten shutouts.

At the plate, Staten island took an opportunistic approach throughout the season and displayed a propensity to capitalize with runners in scoring position and support the strong efforts on the mound. First baseman Dalton Blaser opened the year with 7 hits in his first 11 at-bats and Mandy Alvarez batted .364 in his first 13 games to earn a quick promotion to Charleston.

Catcher Luis Torrens would also join Alvarez in Charleston in mid-July after a triumphant return from shoulder surgery. Torrens, who missed the entire 2015 season returned to form as the best catching prospect in the Yankees’ organization after Gary Sanchez, showing no ill-effects from the injury. In 12 games in Staten Island, Torrens threw out 39 percent of potential base stealers and recorded a .760 OPS at the plate.

“Luis can hit. He has a short stroke to the ball and his arm is healthy now. He is a future major league ballplayer without a doubt,” Bialas said prior to Torrens’ promotion to Charleston.

Throughout the summer, the Baby Bombers established a variety of offensive contributors despite a constantly shifting roster. Outfielder Timmy Robinson, a 21st round draft pick out of USC, led the New York-Penn League with 52 RBIs and paced Staten Island in five offensive categories, including home runs (8), triples (4), and total bases (111). Robinson broke out on July 21 against the Tri-City Valley Cats with a 2 HR, 5 RBI performance and was a potent offensive force throughout the season.

Third baseman Drew Bridges, a returning member of the club in 2016, had the finest season of his professional career, batting .258/.321/.377 with 5 HR and 32 RBIs in a team-high 67 games. The Carthage, Missouri native was one of three Staten Island players to receive a NYPL All-Star selection and sustained his impressive play into the postseason with an extra inning home run to stave off elimination against the State College Spikes.

Lauded for his consistency and makeup, second baseman Nick Solak made the biggest impression on most observers. A 2nd round draft pick out of Louisville last June, Solak led Staten Island with a .412 on-base percentage in 64 games and exceeded expectations defensively recording a .975 fielding percentage. Solak was also adept at hitting to all fields and finished fourth in the NYPL with a .321 average.

On September 3, Staten Island clinched the wild card spot in the NYPL postseason with a victory in Tri-City. The Baby Bombers would face top-seeded State College in the semifinals and lost to the eventual league champions in three games, falling one game short of pursuing their seventh NYPL title. Although Staten Island did not return to the championship series, there was a sense of accomplishment for their postseason journey.

“I know it meant a lot to me and a lot to these kids,” Bialas said. “These kids have battled every day and worked hard, putting in extra work when they needed to and busted their tails playing to him. These kids deserved to be in the playoffs and that chance to compete for a championship.”

Staten Island became the 5th team in the Yankees’ organization to qualify for postseason play after clinching the NYPL wild card. With the 2016 season in the books, Staten Island will officially retire the Yankees moniker after 18 seasons and embark on the next chapter of their history. By year’s end, the club will officially have a new name and rebrand with an eye towards the future and generate local interest for their product on the field, while remaining a Yankee’s affiliate.

Mets Minors: Is Anthony Kay the next Steven Matz?

Anthony KayThe Mets selected Steven Matz 72nd overall in the 2009 amateur draft. They had no first-round pick and Matz was a high risk/high reward option. A kid with great stuff who seemed likely to suffer injuries. As a result of those injuries, he did not make his professional debut until 2012. Thankfully the reward was there too, as Matz has become one of the “Five Young Aces” the Mets rotation may boast in 2017.

Anthony Kay was selected 31st in the 2016 draft and didn’t throw a single pitch in 2016. Thanks to Tommy John surgery he won’t be throwing one in 2017 either. The lefty, who rates as small by MLB standards (5’11), was supposed to be a rapid riser who could work his way into the Met lineup by 2018-19.

Kay boasts three pitches, a 95 MPH fastball, a changeup and a slurve. Described as a work-horse the Mets hoped Kay might be ready to step up when players like Matt Harvey would be hitting Free Agency but those dreams will have to be put on hold. Instead, the Mets can hope that he’s going to hit the ground running, like Matz, and make up for a bumpy start.

Gosuke Katoh Still Growing Mentally And Physically

Gosuke Katoh  (Charleston RiverDogs)

Gosuke Katoh has had his ups and downs during the first four seasons of professional baseball in the New York Yankees minor league system.  He’s battled through being demoted and finished 2016 with the Charleston RiverDogs.

Katoh had played high school baseball at Rancho Bernardo in San Diego where excelled playing second base and batting at a .429 clip his senior season.  Katoh decided at that point in time to stay close to home accepting a scholarship to play baseball at UCLA.

While watching the 2013 baseball draft, Katoh was watching to see where his friends were being taken in the draft.  Much to his surprise, he heard his own named called by the Yankees in the second round.  “It completely just surprised me.  I was watching TV, the draft, pretty much just as a fan because I played with most of those guys who went in the first round.  I was just texting them like, ‘Hey man, congratulations.’  Little did I know I was going to get drafted on TV, so it was exciting and I was really surprised,” Katoh said.

Katoh was faced with an unexpected dilemma.  “It was a really tough decision my senior year because when I committed to UCLA, I pretty much knew 100% that I was going to go there and play baseball for them and that was my dream school because my mom went there and my dad went there.  I always grew up as a Bruin fan and being from southern California, they’re always a good baseball school and always have good athletics and good education.  It was really tough to turn down, but when the Yankees called I was really excited to open up a new chapter in my life and to get my professional baseball career started,” Katoh said of his choice to accept the Yankees offer.

Katoh was sent to the Gulf Coast League soon after signing and soon showed why the Yankees had taken a chance on him in the second round.  He hit .310 while posting an on base percentage of .402 in 50 games.  “I think it was because it was pretty much just an extension of my high school season.  I finished high school, won our state championship and then basically again next week I was playing baseball again in Florida.  That was a pretty easy transition on the field.  We were playing day games, so I was really used to that.”

Katoh had to adjust to living across the country and was on his own for the first time in his life. “The off the field stuff was the hardest for me because it was my first time away from home for a very long period of time.  You know having to take care of my body by myself and living on my own was pretty tough.”

The Yankees were impressed with his 2013 season and assigned him to the full season single-A Charleston RiverDogs for 2014.  His numbers at the plate declined though as he hit .222, although he was still getting on base with a relatively good .345 on base percentage.

The next season, the Yankees assigned him to Charleston again where he started off the season.  Katoh was then faced with his first setback when he was sent to extended spring training and then down a level to the Pulaski Yankees shortly into the 2015 season.  “It was really tough to go down because it was my first time ever experiencing failure really.  Through high school, I’ve always succeeded for the most part and to fail was kind of tough but I really learned a lot on the mental side of baseball and a lot of the coaches here helped me out.  The hitting coach has helped me out and all the staff in Tampa really helped me out with my mental game.  I went to Tampa for extended for a little bit and really worked on my swing with the hitting instructor, James Rowson,” Katoh said.

Katoh then turned his season around at Pulaski where he hit .287, getting on base at a .426 clip to help spark the P-Yanks to the playoffs.  “When I went to Pulaski, I only had positive thoughts.  We had a really great group of guys there.  I loved the team there, I love the team chemistry there.  We ended up winning a lot of games and making the playoffs.  It was a really positive season.”

Katoh started off 2016 in extended spring training before getting re-assigned to Charleston on May 23.  In his first game back, he felt something he never had before while playing baseball.  “It was awesome because I was basically shaking at the plate because I was so nervous.  I’ve never really been that nervous on the baseball field,” he said.  Nobody in the stands could tell as Katoh homered in his first at-bat of the season.  He ended up going 3-5, scoring two runs while driving in one in a 10-2 RiverDogs win over West Virginia.  “To be able to get that first at-bat, first knock, first home run out of the way was a huge relief because after that I felt like all the pressure was off and I was really able to have some fun on the field,” Katoh said

While at the plate, Katoh has a reputation for being patient but he’s trying to take a more assertive approach at the plate.  “At the plate, I like to be really aggressive.  I swing at a lot of first pitches when I’m feeling really good.  I like to grind out at-bats.  I feel like I’ll never really be that three or four guy that drives in runs in the gaps or hit home runs, so I like to really just grind out at-bats and help the team win by getting on base and stealing some bags.” Katoh described.

Defensively, Katoh plays second base, but did play third base this season for the first time in his professional career.  Playing third gave him more perspective while at the plate.  “I never knew how hard it was to field a bunt from third base until I actually did it.  You know hitting wise and obviously from the second base side, the more you know about every position in the game, the more you’ll succeed.  It was good to know about the bunt stuff from the third base side too,” Katoh said.

As far as his normal position, Katoh has good hands and range at second base, but he still has areas of his game he’s looking to improve.  “Basically everything in general. The main focus is footwork and arm strength. I can always improve on hands and range.  If I compare myself to the big league, major league all-star, I’m nowhere close to there.  There’s a lot of work to do, I have a lot of work to do,” Katoh said.

Katoh is still young and will be 22 years old when the 2017 season starts.  His numbers at the plate weren’t fantastic (.229 BA 1 HR 9 RBI in 65 games) but he knows what he has to do to get better and become the player the Yankees think he can be.  His focus is to keep gaining strength, both mentally and physically.  “In 2017, I expect myself to be a better person and a better player.  Be stronger mentally.  I feel like every year I’ve been getting a lot stronger mentally.  Making good steps forward after a bad game.  I expect a huge year out of me every year.  I’m going to work really hard in the gym and during the off-season and that should pay off.”

Ben Ruta Lives out Hometown Dreams as Yankees Farmhand

Ben Ruta with the Staten Island Yankees (Robert M. Pimpsner)

During the past two decades, the New York Yankees entrenched themselves as the perennial team of choice in their city. Through their dominance and winning culture, they built a new legion of youth fans, some of who are playing professional baseball themselves. Ben Ruta, a native of West Windsor, New Jersey grew up in that era and now lives out his dream as a player in the Yankees’ organization.

Defining the championship seasons under Joe Torre were patience and discipline. Outfielder Bernie Williams translated that on-field discipline from his musical background where he learned to express himself internally. In a similar sense, Ruta also grew up around the music by playing the piano as a youngster and learned from an early age the benefit of being patient on a baseball diamond.

“I played the piano for seven years. I didn’t like practicing the piano initially, but my mom made me do it when I was younger.” Ruta said. “One I was done, I began to enjoy it, because I was able to see why it was beneficial to me and the discipline part of it is just like baseball because you are always practicing to become successful.”

In addition to his music pursuits, Ruta comes from a strong athletic background, where both his father and sister played collegiate soccer. Ruta would establish himself at West-Windsor Plainsboro South High School, where he earned three varsity letters in baseball and was a Princeton “All Packet” First Team selection on two occasions.

“Baseball was truly the sport that I loved more than soccer and I was willing to work hard in that sport. The high school competition was ok, but what prepared me for college was being able to look up to some older players and keep working hard every year from then and get into a routine, which is how I found success,” Ruta said.

Following high school, Ruta received a Division I offer from Wagner College, which plays its home games on the same field as the Staten Island Yankees at Richmond County Bank Ballpark. Under head coach Jim Carone and his predecessors, Wagner developed into one of the top baseball programs in New York City with seven players getting drafted by big league teams, including former Oakland A’s closer Andrew Bailey.

Ben Ruta with the Wagner College Seahawks (David Saffran Photography/Wagner College Athletics)
Ben Ruta with the Wagner College Seahawks (David Saffran Photography/Wagner College Athletics)

“Playing at Richmond County Bank Ballpark in my professional career is a dream for me because I practiced and played there for four years in college,” Ruta said. “Wagner was one of my only Division I offers. I was the first player recruited by Carone when he got the job. From the time I was a freshman to when I was a senior, the program kept taking steps to improve from playing better competition to recruiting better players.”

Ruta began garnering notice with a standout season this past spring, batting .343/.406/.439 and making the First Team All-NEC for the second consecutive season. Although the individual stats were impressive were impressive on paper, Ruta puts team performance ahead of individual pursuits and regrets being unable to compete for a league championship in his final year of eligibility.

“It’s always great to get individual awards, but we did not meet our goals as a college program. We did not get a chance to play in an NEC Tournament, which was a huge disappointment. It is nice to have a great year, but you cannot do that without the help of your coaches, teammates, family, and hard work.”

Ruta’s aspiration of playing for the Yankees came to fruition when the organization selected him in the 30th round in June. His first 13 professional games came with the Pulaski Yankees in Appalachian League, when he hit .283/.365/,413 with one home run and eight runs batted in for manager Tony Frankin to open the season.

Ben Ruta diving back to first base. (Jarah Wright)
Ben Ruta diving back to first base. (Jarah Wright)

“The Yankees showed interest in me during the pre-draft workout. I was hoping to get taken by them since I was on their radar the past two seasons. I really enjoyed the small-town feel of Pulaski. They had great fans there and the park was beautiful. Tony was very supportive and walked the players through the minor league process through their first experience in pro ball”

Following an auspicious pro start, Ruta earned a promotion to Staten Island, where he returned to the site of his collegiate glory. Ruta struggled in his first foray in the New York-Penn League with one hit in his first 16 at-bats before hitting a home run against the Williamsport Crosscutters. Adjustments were key for Ruta to overcome difficulties and adjust to the league in Staten Island.

“It was definitely a big adjustment anytime you move up a level,” Ruta said. “What it comes down to is feeling out your swing and not worrying necessarily about how many hits you get, but about putting in good at-bats together each day because baseball is a rough sport on your mind because you have to focus on the process rather than the results.”

Primarily a gap hitter with speed, Ruta hopes to improve his power potential as he makes his way through the Yankees minor league system and believes the coaching philosophy at each level benefits him while he improves in professional baseball.

“Eric Duncan, the hitting coach in Staten Island has helped me make small adjustments during the season, where my swing now feels great. He is similar to Kevin Mahoney in Pulaski since they aren’t about changing your entire swing. I think it’s a great approach to have since these adjustments can help you go a long way.”

Dom Thompson-Williams Builds Momentum in Pro Ball

Dom Thompson-Williams singles on a fly ball to right field (Robert M. Pimpsner)

There are few positions in sports, which hold both the reverence and importance of playing centerfield for the New York Yankees. The names that held the position were iconic in stature and maintained a deep place in the team’s illustrious history. 27 miles away in Staten Island is where Dom Thompson-Williams, the Yankees fifth round pick in the 2016 draft begins his professional career.

In his hometown of Sioux City, Iowa, Thompson-Williams had a number of athletic pursuits available to him during his senior season of high school. As a star wide receiver and defensive back, Thompson-Williams received offers to play football at the collegiate level, but after winning Gatorade Player of the Year honors in 2013, he chose to attend Iowa Western Community College with the hopes of becoming a professional baseball player.

“I could have gone to Iowa, Iowa State, or Nebraska for football, but I wanted to play both baseball and football. They did not want a two-sport athlete. People do not know this, but I signed to play both sports in junior college. After a week, I thought it through, and I did not want to hurt myself playing football, so I told the coach to raise my scholarship to play baseball full-time,” Thompson-Williams said.

Thompson-Williams quickly established himself during his two seasons at Iowa Western and led his team to consecutive appearances in the NJCAA World Series. During his freshman season, he batted .407/.465/.623 with 20 stolen bases and became the 19th round selection of the St. Louis Cardinals that spring. By the time he completed his tenure at Iowa Western, Thompson-Williams was a national commodity ranked in the top 100 among collegiate players.

Dom Thompson Williams collected 2 hits in his first professional playoff game. (Robert M. Pimpsner)
Dom Thompson-Williams collected two hits in his first professional playoff game. (Robert M. Pimpsner)

“A big thing that they preached at Iowa Western was to teach you how to become a baseball player on the field and they teach you to become a man off the field,” Thompson-Williams explains. “Junior college wasn’t the fastest route, but made me the man who I am today and I would not take back those days and the decision I made to attend school there.”

After two productive junior college seasons, the South Carolina Gamecocks recruited Thompson-Williams last spring and became teammates and fast friends with Gene Cone and Taylor Widener, who later began their pro careers with Thompson-Williams in the New York-Penn League.

“My dream out of high school was to play in the SEC, period. That was my main dream. At Iowa Western, we ended up winning the national championship, and that opened a lot of doors for me,” Thompson-Williams said. “Gene Cone was our leadoff hitter, and he had a hell of a year at South Carolina and those types of players push you to become better.”

“Dom was supposed to make a major impact coming into South Carolina,” Cone said. “He played center and left predominantly for us and was a big factor in the success we had last spring. Everybody liked him as a teammate, and we hung out together both on and off the field.”

With the help of head coach Chad Holbrook, Thompson-Williams hit .315 with eight home runs and 41 RBI in 240 at-bats. Earlier in the spring, South Carolina alum and current Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. visited the campus and made an impression on the student athletes.

“South Carolina had the academics and the best resources in the country. They called me out of the blue and gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse. It was heaven all over. Jackie is the man. He sat down with me, and we talked about baseball and the off the field matters. He was so down to earth that you would never know he’s a big leaguer. It’s pretty awesome to know somebody of that caliber.”

Proving he could play successfully at any level as an amateur, Thompson-Williams felt ready to accept the challenges of professional baseball and quickly signed a contract with the Yankees just before the start of the New York-Penn League season. Assigned to the Staten Island Yankees as a fifth-round pick, Thompson-Williams batted in the leadoff spot for the first time and faced the struggles that typify the transition from college baseball.

“I guess the biggest transition for me was switching from aluminum to the wood bats. I am still trying to figure that out, and the key is making adjustments. I came out of the gates striking out a lot and not doing too well. I just had to tell myself that baseball is a game and that everybody has ups and downs, even if they are in the big leagues. Eventually, things turn around,” Thompson-Williams said.

Dom Thompson-Williams scores sliding into homeplate on a single by Angel Aguilar. (Robert M. Pimpsner)
Dom Thompson-Williams scores sliding into homeplate on a single by Angel Aguilar. (Robert M. Pimpsner)

By midseason, Thompson-Williams rediscovered his form, and his difficulties began subsiding. Dating back to a two-hit performance against the Lowell Spinners on August 8, Thompson-Williams was hitting .333 in 33 at-bats and boosted his on-base percentage to a season-best .366 by month’s end with Staten Island in contention for a postseason berth.

“I think he is started to get accustomed to using the wooden bats by now,” Staten Island manager Dave Bialas said. “He was down for about 11 to 12 days with a bruised hand and now is beginning to swing the bat well for us. He adds a lot to our club in the outfield and plays a good centerfield. Also, he can steal bags out of the leadoff spot and contributes well to this club.”

Staten Island Forces Game Three Match-Up with Extra Inning Win

Drew Bridges hit a solo home run in the tenth inning to lead the Yankees to victory. (Robert M. Pimpsner)

The Staten Island Yankees will be around for at least one more game as they have defeated the State College Spikes in game two of the New York-Penn League Semi-Finals.  The win came in the tenth inning thanks to a solo home run by Drew Bridges.

Staten Island got off to an early lead in the first inning after Dom Thompson-Williams lined a single to left and advanced to second on a throwing error.  That allowed him to move to third base on a ground out by Drew Bridges and score on a ground out by Timmy Robinson.

The Yankees added a second run in the top of the sixth inning. Timmy Robinson doubled to left, moved to third on a single by Dalton Blaser and then got thrown out at home when Jerry Seitz hit into a fielder’s choice.  Blaser went to second on the play.  Nathan Mikolas walked to load the bases and after a pop out in foul territory to the third baseman Ben Ruta would walk to force home a run.

That is where the scoring would stay until the bottom of the ninth inning.  Josh Roeder came into the game in relief.  He allowed a leadoff single to Danny Hudzina then a wild pitch to move him to second.  Roeder then walked Yariel Gonzalez.  A fly out to center field moved up both runners, putting them in the position to score on a single by Tommy Edman.

Drew Bridges came up big with his solo shot in the top of the tenth inning, giving Staten Island the lead once again.

The lead was in jeopardy as State College loaded the bases with one-out in the bottom of the tenth inning after Ricardo Bautista singled, Elier Rodriguez reached on a throwing error, and Danny Hudzina walked.  But the Yankees had some luck as Yariel Gonzalez grounded into a double play to second baseman Nick Solak to Angel Aguilar at the bag and finally to Dalton Blaser at first base to end the game.

Freicer Perez pitched five innings, allowing four walks and three hits and striking out only two batters.  He was followed by David Sosebee who pitched three great innings in relief, striking out three batters and allowing a hit and walk.  Josh Roeder got the win but allowed 2 runs on two hits and a walk.  Trevor Lane earned the save with a scoreless inning.

Tomorrow the Staten Island Yankees will look to try to make it to the next round of the playoffs with Simon De la Rosa on the mound.  If the Yankees win, they will face off against the Hudson Valley Renegades in the championship round.

Staten Island Yankees Announce Team Name Finalists


Earlier this season the Staten Island Yankees announced that they would be undergoing a rebranding at the conclusion of the 2016 season.  The Baby Bombers asked fans to submit their suggestions on what the team should be called and after narrowing down they have come up with the top five finalists.

Here are the top five finalists according to the team’s press release.

Bridge Trolls

Bridge Trolls commemorates the iconic bridges that connect Staten Island, while embracing the kind of wacky names Minor League Baseball is known for.


The Heroes honors the civil servants and military personnel of Staten Island and New York who work tirelessly to uphold our American values.

Killer Bees

Killer Bees pays tribute to Staten Island’s musical and cultural impact. Fans will be “buzzing” over our bee-themed promotions!

Pizza Rats

Like Staten Islanders and New Yorkers, these natives are tenacious, enterprising and know where to find the best food in the city.

Rock Pigeons

Another animal synonymous with the city, the Rock Pigeons celebrates Staten Island – known by locals as “The Rock.”


Pinstriped Performances – Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Trenton Thunder’s Dante Bichette Jr. before Game 1 of the Divisional Series of the Eastern League Playoffs against the Reading Fightin Phils in at ARM & HAMMER Park in Trenton on Wednesday, September 7, 2016. Photo by Martin Griff

Check out the top performances across the New York Yankees farm system in the latest edition of Pinstriped Performances.

Mason Williams, CF, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple A): Williams drove in the only two runs for the RailRiders in their 2-0 playoff opening victory over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. He went 3-4 with a two-run go-ahead home run in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Jordan Montgomery, SP, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (Triple A): Montgomery spun a gem, pitching seven scoreless innings. Jordan’s performance earned the win as he struck out five, walked three, permitted three hits and induced six ground-outs to nine fly-outs. He threw 65 of 102 pitches for strikes.

Mark Payton, LF, Trenton Thunder (Double A): Payton went 2-3 with a double, triple, run scored and RBI in Trenton’s playoff series opening 3-2 win over the Reading Phillies.

Dante Bichette, 1B, Trenton Thunder (Double A): Bichette went 1-2 with a double, walk, run scored and a run batted in.

Kevin Cornelius, DH, Tampa Yankees (Single A Advanced): Cornelius went 3-5 with two doubles, and a walk in Tampa’s 15-inning 8-4 loss to the Dunedin Blue Jays (the playoff series is now tied 1-1).

Rashad Crawford, CF, Tampa Yankees (Single A Advanced): Crawford went 2-7 with a two-run home run in the bottom of the second inning.

Estevan Florial, CF, Charleston RiverDogs (Single A): Florial went 2-4 with a double and run scored in Charleston’s 3-1 playoff opening loss to the Rome Braves.

Dom Thompson-Williams, CF, Staten Island Yankees (Single A Short Season): Thompson-Williams went 2-3 with a walk in Staten Island’s 3-0 playoff opening loss to the State College Spikes.

Spencer Mahoney, RP, Staten Island Yankees (Single A Short Season): Mahoney tossed three perfect innings of relief. He struck out three, and threw 26 of 35 pitches for strikes.

Staten Island Shut out in Playoff Opener against State College; Face Elimination

Dom Thompson Williams collected 2 hits in his first professional playoff game. (Robert M. Pimpsner)

STATEN ISLAND, NY – For the eleventh time in franchise history the Staten Island Yankees participated in postseason play as they began the New York-Penn League semifinals at home against the top-seeded State College Spikes. The Baby Bombers entered Game 1 with the best home record in the league at 26-12, but State College combined dominant pitching with timely hitting in a 3-0 shutout over Staten Island, who now sit one loss away from elimination.

After starting in the NYPL championship series against West Virginia a year ago, Kolton Mahoney opened a playoff series for Staten Island once again but fell behind quickly with three consecutive hits surrendered in the first inning and the first run coming on a Ryan McCarvel RBI single.

The Spikes entered the postseason with the fourth-best batting average in the league and continued their offensive success when they collected two more runs in the third inning on Andy Young‘s two-run home run to left field. Mahoney would settle down and throw a respectable five innings, allowing seven hits and three runs.

“Kolton left his fastball pretty much in the hitter’s hot spots early on, primarily on the two-run home run. He continued to battle from that point and threw some good innings for us and did a good job. State College hit balls in certain holes against us and took advantage,” Staten Island manager Dave Bialas said.

In Game 1, State College gave the ball to Franklinville, NJ native Bryan Dobzanski, who kept Staten Island out of the hit column until Dom Thompson-Williams reached base with two outs in the third to ignite a potential rally. Staten Island eventually loaded the bases for the league’s leading producer Timmy Robinson, who flew out to center field and allowed State College to escape the inning unharmed.

The Baby Bombers left two more runners on base and could not get into any offensive groove against Dobzanski despite four walks in his first five innings. Dobzanski collected his first postseason victory tossing 98 pitches in six shutout innings.

“We had a chance with the bases loaded in the third inning, but their starter pitched well out there for them tonight,” Bialas said. “It was simply a case of good pitching beating good hitting, and their pitching was able to shut us down, and we weren’t able to get back into the game.”

Dobzanski gave way to lefty reliever Jordan DeLorenzo in the seventh inning and provided a contrasting style on the mound. Working the final three innings for State College, DeLorenzo recorded the save with six strikeouts, including fanning the side in the ninth inning.

“We had all left-handers in the lineup when he came into the game. We have had some difficulties with left-handed pitching all year, but he was able to mix his pitches effectively. He had a good breaking ball out there, and he pitched extremely well the last three innings.”

Despite facing elimination after dropping the first game of the series, the Staten Island Yankees remain confident they can take the next two games on the road since the dropped the first game of a mid-August series to State College and rebounded to take two of three on the road. Bialas also sites the resiliency of his team during the final month of the season as a reminder of their potential facing adversity.

“It’s very important to establish a winning culture at this level. That’s what we have been doing all year. These guys know how to win. They have been down in a three-game series after losing the first game before. In these playoffs, it is about pitching, defense, and timely hitting. This is baseball. Anything can happen.”

The Staten Island Yankees will travel to State College for Game 2 on Thursday night and send Freicer Perez (2-4, 4.47 ERA) to the mound to stave off elimination against Texas native Jordan Hicks (6-2, 2.97 ERA). If the series extends to a third game on Friday, Simon De la Rosa (6-4, 3.38 ERA) will take the mound for the Baby Bombers opposed by right-hander Carson Cross (5-6, 3.24 ERA) in his second season with State College.

Staten Island Yankees Take Aim at Seventh NYPL Title Against Spikes

Kolton Mahoney will start the first game of the 2016 playoffs for the Staten Island Yankees (Robert M. Pimpsner)

For the eleventh time in their history, the Staten Island Yankees will be making an appearance in the New York – Penn League playoffs.  It is the third time that the Baby Bombers are heading to the postseason as the wild card.  But it will also be the final time they do so under the “Yankees” name.

On Wednesday, September 7 the Yankees will suit in their home pinstripes and take the field at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark to face off with the State College Spikes who ended the regular season with the best record in the league at 50-26.  Staten Island will send out one of their top starters in the person of Kolton Mahoney to make the start in game one.

Mahoney, 24, ended the regular season with a 4-4 record and a 2.92 ERA over 12 games, eight starts.  He struck out 47 batters over 61 2/3 innings and will be making his second career start in the postseason.  Last year he made one start for the Staten Island Yankees in the League Championship Series against the West Virginia Black Bears, in that game he allowed three runs over three innings on 62 pitches.

This year against the Spikes he did not allow a run in the two innings he pitched against them on August 12.  In that game, he allowed just one hit on 23 pitches.

On the mound for State College in game, one will be Bryan Dobzanski.  The 21-year old right-hander had a 4-6 record with a 3.93 ER with 37 strikeouts over 71 innings pitched.  Opponents hit .286 against him on the season.  The Yankees hit .333 against them in their lone game, scoring three runs on six hits.

Starting game two for the Staten Island Yankees will be Freicer Perez.  The right-handed pitcher has impressed many this year, reaching as high as #30 on the New York Yankees mid-season prospect ranking by MLB Pipeline.  The 20-year old has a 2-4 record for the Yankees in the regular season, earning a 4.47 ERA with 49 strikeouts over 52 1/3 innings pitched.  He has yet to face State College in a game.

Jordan Hicks will pitch for the Spikes in game two; the 20-year old has a 1.76 ERA in 6 games for State College this year.  He has earned a 4-1 record with 22 strike outs over 30 2/3 innings.  He faced the Yankees on August 13, allowing four runs over 4 1/3 innings and taking the loss.

If the series goes to a game three, the Baby Bombers will be starting Simon De la Rosa.  The 23-year old has started 13 games for the Yankees, striking out 76 batters in 69 1/3 innings and has a 3.38 ERA.  He faced the State College Spikes on August 12 where he allowed four runs on four hits and a walk over five innings.  Two of the four hits he allowed in that game were home runs.

For State College Carson Cross would get the ball in game three.  The 24-year old had a 5-6 record during the regular season with a 3.24 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 80 2/3 innings.  The Yankees faced him on August 14, where he took the loss allowing six runs, 3 earned, on seven hit over five innings.

The Staten Island Yankees pitching staff ended the season a 2.82 team era in 75 games.  Yankees pitchers struck out 644 players over 677 1/3 innings.

State College finished the season with a 3.06 team ERA with 522 strikeouts over 678 2/3 innings.

The Spikes were fourth in the league at the plate, with a combined .254 batting average.  As a team they led the league in RBIs with 334, runs scored with 378, and walks with 283.

Catcher Jeremy Martinez leads State College all season with a .325 batting average in 57 games. 14 doubles, triples and one home run.  Against Staten Island he hit .429 in 7 at-bat but did not face any of the three starters the Yankees will send out in this series.  First baseman Ryan McCarvel and LF Vince Jackson each drove in 45 runs.

Staten Island, on the other hand, had a combined .239 team batting average.  They are the lightest hitting team in the playoffs.  The Yankees ended the season with 277 walks, good for fourth in the league.  They were lead to the play by Nick Solak who ended his first professional season with a .321 batting average, good for fourth in the league.   Outfielder Timmy Robinson leads the entire league with 52 RBIs.

The Staten Island Yankees have history against them going into this series.  They have yet to get out of the semi-finals when they enter the postseason as the wild card team.