As the American Legion Post 701 baseball team takes to the diamond this summer, it’s an opportunity for its members to circle back and renew old friendships.
The under-19-year-old squad under manager Bill Agresta’s tutelage for the past 11 years combines the talents of baseball players from Montgomery and Fulton counties for a summer season that’s currently underway.
“It’s just another opportunity to play with my friends who I’ve played with since I was 8 years old,” Amsterdam graduate and rising Utica College sophomore outfielder Tommy Ziskin said after Monday’s 4-0 win over Saratoga Stampede 16U. “I’ve got to make the most of the last time I get to do it.”
Many of the players are reunited after playing their youth baseball seasons in Amsterdam.
“I played down in Albany and I do play in the Twilight League,” said Ryan Visco, a 2021 Broadalbin-Perth graduate and Adirondack Community College baseball sophomore pitcher, and the winning pitcher in Monday’s game. “This is my main team because these are all my guys. We all grew up playing Little League in Amsterdam together.”
The recent high school graduates and young college baseball players are focused on honing their individual talents and earning victories to help extend their summer season.
“I work on my hitting, that’s my favorite part of the game; seeing the ball, hitting it better and working on all aspects of the game,” Fonda-Fultonville 2022 graduate Zenmatsu Myles said. “I like how relaxed it is, how much fun we can have when we’re playing the sport of baseball. When we have to get serious, we do; we score runs to win games.”
The American Legion team’s play begins after high school baseball concludes and quickly approaches elimination tournament time with the district tournament beginning July 16 at Shuttleworth Park.
Last year, Post 701 failed to advance. This year could be different.
“My pitching is really good,” Agresta said. “[Ryan] Visco is really good. Jack Montayne is really good, Austin VanGorder, Michael Magliocca, too, and then I have other kids I can bring it.
“Ben Huckans throws really hard, D.J. Wallace throws really hard and they can come in and give me innings. Zachary Tallon gives me innings. I have the pitching I need, I have really good defense. If we can hit the ball, we’ll be fine.”
Post 701 will have a warm-up tournament this weekend at Schenectady’s Central Park.
“There are two teams coming down from Montreal that are supposed to be good and I really want to play them,” Agresta said. “I’ve seen Schenectady, and we’ll have seen Saraotga three times. I want to see other teams and see what we can do.”
Whether it is an open tournament, a regular season contest or elimination tournament, Agresta coaches his style.
“I’ve never coached a team that had home run hitters on it,” Agresta said. “I love singles, doubles, bunting and stealing. We’re a fast team. We steal bases and we make pitchers pay for one-looking us. If [the pitcher looks us back once] we’re going to take third base on you, guaranteed. I’ve taught that for years and that’s what we do.
“I want to play baseball, I want to win, but I want us to have fun. They’re all friends.”