AMSTERDAM — After fielding a bunch of ground balls at third base prior to the Albany Dutch’s season opener late Monday afternoon, Luke Gold lingered on the Rao Family Stadium baseball field at Shuttleworth Park for several minutes to soak in the atmosphere.
It had been some time.
“I’m so grateful for this,” the 2019 Ballston Spa High School graduate said. “A lot of people worked really hard to put this in place so we could have baseball in the Capital Region.”
Gold is one of the 100-plus players competing in the one summer-only Independent Collegiate Baseball League, and for the first time since leading the Scotties to the state Class A championship his senior year in high school, he’s got an opportunity to play a full season.
His freshman campaign at Boston College was cut short after 15 games when the coronavirus pandemic swept across the nation and shut down just about everything. Last summer, while playing in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League with the Albany Dutchmen, his season ended after a dozen games when he was struck in the head by a pitch and sustained a concussion.
“This is going to be fun,” Gold said of the Dutch’s 30-game schedule.
And, he assured, it will be productive, too.
“This is going to be good prep. Five weeks of baseball to get ready for the fall,” the 19-year-old said. “I am going to use the information to help me as a hitter, fielder and with my overall development as a baseball player.”
Before Monday’s doubleheader with the Amsterdam Mohawks, Gold last played a game on March 10 when Boston College beat Holy Cross in its home opener 10-7. Gold started for the 15th time in 15 games, and went 1-for-3 with a double and three RBI.
“We made our trip to Florida. Went to Arizona State. We got our first ACC series in with Clemson,” said Gold, who played second base and also served as Boston College’s designated hitter. “It was not going too bad.”
Gold was second among the Eagles with 15 RBIs, and was hitting .246 with four doubles and a homer, when Boston College’s season came to a halt.
“We were going to play North Carolina State,” Gold said. “Thursday we flew down, and coach said this weekend is off. Later that day they canceled all events. That was tough to deal with. It ended real quick. Two days later, I was at home.”
And soon, Gold was back at work, taking swings “pretty much every day” against the ramped-up pitching machine at his home.
“I got 50, 60 at-bats [at Boston College], and it was good to see what I needed to work on,” the 6-foot, 220-pound Gold said. “The speed of pitching at the college level is faster than I had seen before.”
Gold’s diligence in the batting cage paid dividends Monday when he belted a two-run home run in the second game of the doubleheader to help stake the Dutch to a 3-0 lead. The Mohawks rallied later on and won 7-3 following their 7-4 victory in the opener.
In the other ICBL doubleheader at East Field Monday, the Albany Athletics beat the Glens Falls Independents 8-5 and 3-1.
While the emphasis of the ICBL is to give players an opportunity to get reps in a live-game atmosphere more so than winning, Gold said they naturally want to do that, too.
“This is something we’ve all put so much time into,” said Gold, who, as a junior and senior at Ballston Spa, was named to the all-state first team. “We want to see ourselves and our teams succeed. Those competitive juices are going to flow.”