Prep Baseball Report

New York State Games Preview: Niagara Region

By Paul Gotham
New York staff

New York State Games Preview: Niagara Region

Fresh off claiming a Georgetown Cup championship, a quartet of Canisius Crusaders will lead Charlie Karstedt’s Niagara region squad into Prep Baseball Report’s 2016 New York State Games. 

Jack Collins, Jake Johnson, Michael Mazzara and Mitchell Rosati all contributed to a Crusaders program which finished the season undefeated in Monsignor Martin league play. 

Collins, a right-handed pitcher, was a regular starter on a staff which included San Diego Padres seventh round draft pick Dan Dallas. Coming off a solid sophomore season, Collins is a standout performer who will add velocity as he grows into his 6-5, 175-pound frame. 

"He has a lot of upside," Karstedt said of Collins 

Mazzara (2017) a 5-foot-11, 185-pound middle infielder, and Rosati (2017), a 5-foot-10, 170-pound right-hand pitcher, played contributing roles for the Crusaders which suffered their only loss of the season during a trip to Florida. Johnson (2018/5-foot-10, 150 pounds/SS/2B) was promoted from the junior varsity squad for the post-season. 

Joseph Barberio (2017 St. Mary’s) heads the list of four catchers on the Niagara squad. 

“He is one of the best catch-and-throw kids in the state,” Karstedt said of the 5-foot-10, 170 pound back stop. 

Barberio’s teammate, Collin Tytka (2017) is coming off an arm injury. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound right-hander has wiry frame and live arm. 

Brett Kochanski (2018 Cleveland Hill) will also log some time behind the plate, but the 6-foot-1, 155-pound under-classman can play every position on the field and has a live arm throwing 82-84 mph.

Jake Zurat (2017) led Williamsville-North hitting .431. The 5-foot-11 catcher drove in 17 runs with nine extra-base hits including seven doubles and a home run. He finished the season with a .462 on-base percentage. Fellow Spartan, Kyle Spoth (2017), hit .308 this season. The 6-foot-0, 205-pound corner infielder drove in 12 and scored a dozen in the spring. He finished with a .500 on-base percentage.  Josh Surowiec (2017) drove in 19 for Williamsville-North. The 6-foot-2, 215 pound first baseman/ left-handed pitcher hit .406 with a .515 on-base percentage. 

Orchard Park’s Cole Hollins (2017) will add pop from the left side of the plate. The son of former minor league veteran, Paul, and nephew of Major League veteran, Dave, drove in 21 runs this past season. He hit .339 with 12 extra-base hits. Hollins is joined by Orchard Park teammate, Troy Hattala (2017). The 5-foot-10, 190-pound catcher played 14 games for the Quakers this season. 

Lewiston-Porter’s Dawson Bailey (2017) will be one of the event’s premier players. A three-sport athlete, Bailey earned First Team All-Western New York as a sophomore. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound outfielder is a point guard on the Lancers’ basketball team and plays football in the fall. 

With a mid-80s fastball, Holland’s Pierce Gardon is a big body, physical player at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds. Gardon hit .365 on the season with 12 RBI and seven extra-base hits including five doubles. 

Mike Steffan (2017) played outfield for NYSPHSAA Class A finalist, Williamsville East. A switch-hitter the 6-foot-2, 170-pound Steffan boasts an impressive academic record. 

St. Joseph’s Gavin Collura (2017) is a steady outfielder capable of making big plays. He has athletic tools with a strong arm, and the right-hander throws low to mid-80s off the mound. 

Frontier Central teammates Robert Gruber (2017) and Matt Kellner (2017) also join the lineup as does Kenmore-West’s Kyle LaPlante (2017), St. Mary’s Zach Penksa (2017), Ryan Peterson (2018) from Nichols, St. Mary’s Christian Szablewski (2018) and St. Michael Catholic's Brandon Underhill (2017). 

Collins will get the start and throw the first three innings when Niagara opens against Downstate. Kochanski will also throw three innings with Rosati closing it out. 

Readers can see Niagara’s roster by scrolling down here and pitching matchups here