Almost two years after Cayuga Community College leaders announced plans to add baseball to the College's athletic programs, the first spring game of the first Cayuga baseball team is almost here.
And Coach TJ Gamba and his Spartans are ready.
"There's a lot of excitement. The feedback from the community has been great. The players are ready to go. The coaches are ready to go. We played some games in the fall, but it's not the same thing as the start of the regular season in the spring. Now it's just waiting for the weather to cooperate so we can get out there," said Gamba.
The Spartans may not have to wait long for their first game. Cayuga has a scheduled doubleheader on March 13 at Corning before hitting the road to play Community College of Baltimore County-Catonsville, Lehigh Carbon Community College, Onondaga and Fulton-Montgomery.
The Spartans open at home on April 2 against Columbia-Greene.
It's a rigorous schedule for the Spartans, who play 30 games in April. Cayuga's 16-man roster will be tested by frequent doubleheaders, but Gamba said the team is versatile, with most players able to handle multiple positions.
That versatility is exemplified in the team's captains, each of whom plays multiple positions. Team captains are Timothy Baranick (infielder, pitcher, catcher), Zac Legarretta (infielder, pitcher) and Adam Lupo (pitcher, infielder).
Much of the focus for the Spartans' first season is on fundamentals, said Gamba, including pitchers keeping the ball low in the strike zone and letting the team's strength, defense, make plays behind them.
Offensively, Gamba expects the Spartans to be creative, relying on speed, baserunning and moving runners over to push runs across the plate.
"I love the core of this team. They're an athletic group, and I think we can keep building as the season goes on," he said. "We should compete if we execute. We've got great defense, especially up the middle."
The team will start the season playing home games at Gutchess Lumber Sports Complex in Cortlandville while work continues on the installation of a new turf field at Falcon Park in downtown Auburn. Construction started in the fall of 2018, and will continue once the winter weather has abated.
Gamba said the team is eager to compete at their new home stadium.
"We want to get on the field at Falcon Park. It's great that we can play at the sports complex, but we want to play on our home turf. I've had conversations with people in the Auburn area who are excited to see us compete on the new field, so I know the community is looking forward to seeing it as well," said Gamba. "We're looking forward to coming home."
Cayuga's first game against Corning on March 13 is slated for a 1 p.m. start time, with the second game of the doubleheader scheduled for 3 p.m.