Amsterdam native Cotugno making the most of his summer with Mohawks

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Amsterdam Mohwaks baseball player, Carson Cotugno from Amsterdam, takes a selfie with a fan during the 2022 home opener of the Amsterdam Mohawks at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam Saturday, June 4, 2022.

AMSTERDAM — Toeing the rubber on the pitcher’s mound at Shuttleworth Park for the first time as a member of the Amsterdam Mohawks is a memory that Carson Cotugno intends to treasure for a very long time.

“One of the best experiences of my life,” Cotugno said prior to a recent game at Shuttleworth Park.

The righthanded pitcher has enjoyed every moment of his homecoming to Amsterdam this summer. A 2021 Amsterdam High School graduate, Cotugno is coming off his first year at Wake Forest University, where he took a redshirt season this past spring.

Coming back to the park where he played his high school home games and spent summers watching the Mohawks while growing up has been extremely satisfying.

“It’s an experience like no other,” Cotugno said. “I grew up playing the game here. It’s been great.

“It’s been a chance to have fun again.”

Cotugno’s first year with the Demon Deacons was largely focused on development. The 6-foot-1 hurler got a year to watch and learn from the sidelines as part of a Demon Deacons program that went 41-19-1 this past season before being eliminated in the regional round of the NCAA tournament.

He may not have gotten on the mound yet, but Cotugno was satisfied with what he got from his freshman year.

“It was great,” he said. “I got to learn from some of the best coaches in the country at some of the best facilities.”

Cotugno’s redshirt season at Wake Forest also makes his work with the Mohawks this summer crucial to his development moving forward.

He said that his future role with the Demon Deacons — whether it’s as a starter or reliever — hasn’t been decided yet, and he’s had the opportunity to work in both roles so far this season on a Mohawks team that’s stormed to a 25-4 start to this season.

So far this summer, Cotugno’s made seven appearances, including a pair of starts, and owns an 0-1 record with a 6.00 earned run average over 15 innings. He’s been effective at missing opposing bats, racking up 18 strikeouts, but he’s also surrendered 18 walks.

“I’m fine with my velocity right now,” he said. “But I like to have a little bit more command of everything else.”

He’s had the advantage of working with a familiar catcher this summer. Wake Forest traditionally sends a handful of players to Amsterdam each summer, but this year it’s just two Demon Deacons on the roster — Cotugno, and catcher Mark Black.

“He’s caught me all year at school,” Cotugno said. “He knows when I’m on and when I’m off, so that’s really helpful.”

Cotugno is one of a pair of Montgomery County natives on the Amsterdam roster this summer, with OESJ High School graduate Von Baker — who plays collegiately at Cornell — proving to be one of the team’s most effective arms out of the bullpen, having worked to a 0.96 ERA while allowing just four hits in 9 1-3 innings.

And, while Cotugno is lower on the totem pole of collegiate experience than most of his teammates, he has been able to provide some valuable knowledge about the varied quirks and intricacies of pitching at Shuttleworth Park, with its all-turf mound and hitter-friendly outfield dimensions.

“One of the more obvious things I told everyone is not to be afraid to give up a home run,” he said. “Because it’s very much a home run friendly park.”

By Adam Shinder

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