The Dutchmen celebrate another home victory, as a certain song likely plays in the background.
Every home win for the Albany Dutchmen in the 2014 season — and even one road win — was accompanied by the eventually distinctive sounds of Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun”.
And a fun season it was.
The Albany Dutchmen advanced to the PGCBL Playoffs for the second consecutive season, capping an exciting campaign that was full of heart-stopping moments and stellar performances. The Dutchmen earned the moniker of the “Capital City Cardiac Kids,” playing 19 games that were decided by two runs or fewer.
The schedule began nearly as well as possible for the Dutchmen, as Albany won eight of its first nine games, including back-to-back road extra-inning wins over the Amsterdam Mohawks and the Watertown Rams.
Although the Dutchmen could not maintain that pace, the team always was able to find a win when it was needed, and it seemed to be a different player coming up with a big hit or a big outing on the mound. Whether it was a two-run single from James Locklear (Rider) to beat Mohawk Valley and break a five-game losing streak, or Justin Curry (Heartland CC) tossing four no-hit innings in his first start to end another skid, Albany found victories at the right time.
It wasn’t just in close games that the Dutchmen were able to thrive in the first month of the season. Pitcher of the Year Drew Tolson (Baylor) allowed just one hit over seven innings in the team’s first win over Utica, a game that saw the Dutchmen plate 15 runs.
As the calendar turned to July, the Dutchmen found themselves in the midst of a playoff chase, trying to hold off the Glens Falls Golden Eagles to advance to postseason play. Once again, Albany would find big performances throughout the month. A three-game Dutchmen winning streak was powered by a doubleheader sweep over the Adirondack Trail Blazers and a victory over Amsterdam in a suspended game.
Even in losses, the Dutchmen started to gel and find their groove in July. Six Dutchmen players — Tolson, Austin Foote (Indiana), Demetrius Webb (Indiana), Cameron Miller (Baylor), Sean Aspinall (Azusa Pacific), and Kyle Zurak (Radford) — travelled to Elmira for the 2014 PGCBL All-Star Game. Numerous players used that game as a springboard, as Aspinall, the team’s Player of the Year and a Second Team All-PGCBL selection, starred in the second half of the season and became one of the league’s leading hitters. Webb became feared around the league for his prowess behind the plate.
And it wasn’t just the All-Stars that provided a spark for the Dutchmen. Justin Brock (Franklin Pierce) was dubbed “The Base Burglar” for his game-changing abilities on the basepaths, which included a steal of home against Glens Falls. The youngest Albany player, Ernie Clement (Virginia) developed into a force at the top part of the Dutchmen lineup, along with Adam Lee (Lipscomb).
Despite performances like those, Albany entered their game on July 26 in a virtual tie with Glens Falls for that final playoff spot. In a year where the Dutchmen found victories when needed, it was no more evident than on that night. Tolson tossed a brilliant complete game, and a two-run fourth inning gave the Dutchmen the lead for good in a 4-1 victory, which would give Albany a lead for the final playoff spot that they would not relinquish, as the Dutchmen would clinch a few days later.
Although the Dutchmen dropped the East Division Semifinal to Mohawk Valley, it was a hugely successful season in the Capital City of the Empire State.
Ain’t it fun? Oh yeah, it was fun.