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Bobby Wagner enjoys playing baseball at ESG

By Rob Potter
SULLIVAN COUNTY — August 17, 2010 — A few weeks after he helped the Monticello Panthers baseball team qualify for the Section IX Tournament for the first time in 10 years back in May, Bobby Wagner attended one of the six tryouts which were held for the Hudson Valley baseball team that would play in the Empire State Games (ESG) in Buffalo from July 21-25.
The tryout Wagner went to was held on June 27 at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.
“There were about 20 kids at the tryout,” Wagner said. “I was impressed with the level of talent. There are a lot of great baseball players in the area.”
Wagner, a 16-year-old Mongaup Valley resident who will be a senior at Monticello High School this fall, was selected to be a member of the Hudson Valley team. In the process, he made history by becoming the first Monticello player to make the Hudson Valley ESG baseball team.
“It was a good experience to play against those teams,” he said of competing in the ESG. “But it showed me I have some things to work on.”
The highlight for Wagner was throwing a no-hitter as Hudson Valley defeated New York City, 15-1, in a game that was halted after four innings due to the ESG’s 10-run mercy rule. The victory earned a spot in the bronze medal game for the Hudson Valley team.
“It was really cool,” Wagner said of throwing the no-hitter. “But I had four walks and could have done better.”
In the bronze medal game, Hudson Valley was trailing Western 2-0 when the contest was suspended by rain. The game was to resume the following morning, Sunday, July 25, which was the last day of the ESG. But on July 25, ESG officials decided that the fields were unplayable and awarded the medals based on the teams’ records in earlier pool play. Because of its 10-7 win over Hudson Valley in pool play, Western received the bronze medal.
Wagner enjoyed his ESG trip.
“It was a lot of fun and a great experience,” he said. “I made some friends on the [Hudson Valley] team.”
Dozens of college coaches and scouts attended the ESG to watch the young baseball players from the six regional teams. Among them was former Sullivan County Community College Coach Scott Cassidy. He is now the Assistant Coach/Pitching Coach at Le Moyne College in Syracuse.
“You definitely feel the pressure because you know they’re watching,” Wagner said. “There’s even more pressure if you are a pitcher because the spotlight is on you.”
Wagner wants to play baseball in college, but doesn’t know which school he wants to attend or what his major will be.
For the near future, he is concentrating on playing for Monticello’s first varsity football team since the 1930s and improving for the 2011 baseball season.
“I will work on getting stronger and faster,” he said. “Basically I want to improve everything.”
One of the fans watching Wag-ner compete in Buffalo was Monticello Baseball Coach Mike Marra. He was thrilled that Wagner made the Hudson Valley team and got to pitch in the ESG.
“It was big for two reasons,” Marra said. “First, it gave Bobby a chance to play in front of about 50 college coaches and scouts. Second, it helped put Monticello on the map. Some of those coaches and scouts don’t know were Monticello is. But now when they are in Orange County or someplace else in the Hudson Valley looking at players, they will know about Monticello.”
Marra noted that playing in the ESG will help Wagner in the long run.
“Bobby knows the level of baseball in Section IX, so this gives him a look at a higher level of competition,” Marra said.
The veteran coach praised Wagner for his performance with the Monticello Panthers the last three seasons.
“Two years ago, Bobby was a freshman on a team which only won one game,” Marra commented. “This spring, he was one of the leaders on a team that won 11 games and made the sectionals for the first time in 10 years. He was worked really hard. It’s been a great year for him.”
Wagner was a shortstop and pitcher for the Panthers this spring, but at the ESG tryout session he played second base, shortstop, outfield and pitcher.
“He is a very versatile athlete and he can do a lot of good things,” Marra said. “We are expecting him to be one of our senior leaders for our Monticello baseball team next spring.”

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