Zach Andi finds himself in the position of coaching players who were his teammates last season.
But Andi, a Schenectady High School and Schenectady County Community College graduate, has adapted well, qualifying his Schenectady Aces for one of 16 spots in the National Amateur Baseball Federation College World Series.
“Yeah, it’s kind of a joke with some of the guys on this team that I’ve played with before,” said Andi, whose team will play two games Thursday in the 16-team tourney in Toledo, Ohio. “Like, finally, I’m not playing, and they get to play in a national tournament.”
Andi has a roster made up mostly of players who played for his uncle, Tim Andi, at SCCC.
“I played for Tim from 2010-12, and it’s a good way for the freshmen to keep playing together as a team in the summer,” Zach Andi said. “And for the sophomores who are going on to a four-year school and want to play baseball, it keeps them playing, too.”
A good number of the players on the Aces’ roster have been teammates as they advanced through the age divisions.
“They’ve played Babe Ruth, Connie Mack,” said Andi. “They’ve played at the state and regional level, but this is the first time they’ve made it to a national tournament.”
The Aces players who played for the Royals had a little break before beginning their summer schedule in the Eastern New York Travel League.
“It worked out that there was about two weeks between the end of the college season and our season,” Andi said. “There wasn’t a major layoff.”
In addition to the older players on the roster, Andi moved a few up from the younger end of the age limit.
“It gave them a chance to play with the older players, who have played at the junior college or college level,” said Andi.
The Aces qualified for the World Series by beating league rivals Waterford and Capital City in the league’s July Madness tournament two weeks ago.
“That’s a concern, that we haven’t played for two weeks,” Andi said. “Anyone can hit batting practice pitching. It’s a lot different when you’re seeing pitching in a game situation.”
The Aces play twice Thursday and once Friday as the four pools of four teams battle to eliminate half of the field. The top two teams from each pool advance to single-elimination play.
The St. Louis Dodgers won last year’s tournament.
Andi expects to see teams featuring players from some Division I teams.
“I was looking at some of the rosters, and there are players from Indiana University, Fresno State,” he said. “I told them that it’s still baseball, no matter who you play, and it’s a matter of eliminating mistakes.”