Mark looking to make strides in year two as Outlaws coach

May 29—A local summer staple will return Friday night as the Oneonta Outlaws play their season-opener against the Saugerties Stallions, bringing baseball back to Damaschke Field.

The Outlaws finished last season with a 12-32 record in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League but are eager to bounce back in year two under head coach and Oneonta native Keaton Mark.

"It helps with everything," Mark said of having a year of experience under his belt. "The players showed up [Tuesday] and the whole process of just knowing exactly what needs to happen or improve on, stuff like that. Going into this first game, too, just knowing how our home games lay out and all that. Now you know exactly what to expect."

The expectations in year two are higher than last season's results might indicate.

"[The goal] for this year would definitely be making the playoffs." Mark said of the upcoming season. "We fell apart at the end of the season last year, in terms of roster size and everything. We started off hot but instead of starting off hot and cooling off, just keeping a continuum of consistency and success throughout the season, just playing solid.

"Making the playoffs is the first step and everybody wants to win a championship but you go from there, start with the small goals."

This year's team will be equipped with nearly a full 40-man roster, which includes a handful of familiar faces between local products and returners from last year's squad.

Among the local players are Tanner Beang, Liam Blair, Owen Burnsworth and Jordan Goble, who played at Oneonta High School, Adam Champlin, Brian and Darren Dengler of South Kortright, Evan Staroba of Jefferson, Martin Thorsland of Milford and Chris Ubner of Cooperstown.

Returning from last year's team are Goble, Thorsland, Ubner, Jack Hopko and Joel Hayner.

"I think it definitely builds a sense of confidence and establishment, knowing that people are coming to watch your game and a lot of people know who they are," Mark said of the local players.

Mark, a member of the OHS class of 2017 and an outfielder for the Outlaws in 2021, has been in that position before and figures to be someone many of his players will be able to relate to.

"It for sure is [helpful]," Mark said of having been a local player for the Outlaws. "Already seeing some of the guys that stopped by the clubhouse, it's nice to see familiar faces, local guys and returners. We have returners from last year that aren't local as well, so that is nice as well."

There will be 18 different colleges represented on the roster, including a few new ones.

"We have a couple new schools, which is exciting," Mark said. "We have two kids coming from New Orleans, Marco Mueses and Colton Harrison, and then we also have three kids coming from Wofford too, so those are some big school adds."

The Outlaws are scheduled to play 23 regular season home games between Friday and July 26 and will be hosting Mohawk Valley, Glens Falls, Watertown, Amsterdam, Albany, Boonville, Saugerties and Utica.

"Amsterdam is always a powerhouse for sure, they have a lot of Power 5 players," Mark said of the Outlaws' PGCBL competition. "Saugerties is usually top of the pack too along with Mohawk Valley and Utica.

"There are some other teams that are definitely tough, it just depends on the year."

Regardless of how the season plays out, the Outlaws are sure to once again provide local entertainment as they continue the tradition of summer baseball at Damaschke Field.

"We're all excited and ready to go," Mark said.