Justin Yurchak, a 2014 graduate of Shenendehowa, was named Monday as a participant in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game.
Yurchak, playing this summer for the Amsterdam Mohawks, will play for the league’s East team, which Mohawks head coach Keith Griffin will guide. The game will take place July 20 in Little Falls.
Through 33 games, Yurchak has helped the first-place Mohawks to a 26-7 record with his .319 batting average, 18 RBIs, and 25 runs scored. After playing at Wake Forest as a freshman, Yurchak announced last week that he is transferring to Binghamton to continue his baseball career after this summer.
AMSTERDAM — At the last minute, Justin Yurchak was able to head home this summer to play baseball not far from his hometown of Clifton Park in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League with the Amsterdam Mohawks.
A few weeks after securing his release from Wake Forest University after a stellar freshman campaign, Yurchak won’t have to go too far from home again for his next baseball stop.
Before his game Friday night with the Mohawks, Yurchak said he had committed the prior night to attend and play for Binghamton University, a Division I competitor in the America East Conference. Yurchak, 18, said he will redshirt and sit out the 2016 season after transferring, but that he expects to be in the Bearcats’ lineup in 2017.
“It will be tough to just watch and not be able to play next year, but I knew the consequences when I transferred and I still wanted to do it,” Yurchak said. “I’m looking forward to having fun and helping [Binghamton] anyway I can.
Justin Yurchak, of Clifton Park, sits in the home team’s dugout Friday, July 10, 2015, before an Amsterdam Mohawks baseball game at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)
Yurchak, who graduated from Shenendehowa in 2014 after leading the Plainsmen to back-to-back Section II titles, should offer a lot to Binghamton given his success during his freshman season playing in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Serving as Wake Forest’s everyday third baseman, Yurchak hit .313 with 13 extra-base hits and 33 RBIs in 160 at-bats across 49 games; Yurchak’s batting average and extra-base hits tally were both good for fifth-best on the team, while he had the fourth-most RBIs.
Mohawks team president Brian Spagnola said his summer league franchise offered help to Yurchak where it could in terms of helping him to find a new school, but that little assistance was needed.
“He really didn’t need a lot of help,” Spagnola said. “His numbers speak for themselves.”
Yurchak said he viewed his experience playing for Wake Forest as an overall positive, and warmed up for his Mohawks game Friday wearing gear with the school’s logo on it.
“There were just some [things] there that I wasn’t looking for in a school, so I decided to head out,” Yurchak said. “It was a tough decision to leave there, but now I’m excited.”
Athletic trainer Carla Pasquarelli stretches out Justin Yurchak, of Clifton Park, before a Friday, July 10, 2015, Amsterdam Mohawks baseball game at Shuttleworth Park in Amsterdam. (Michael Kelly/Gazette Reporter)
Yurchak’s play has not suffered this summer despite the uncertainty about his future. Originally scheduled to play for the Northwoods League’s Thunder Bay Border Cats in Canada’s Ontario, Yurchak was hitting .320 through his first 100 at-bats for Amsterdam this summer. While his power numbers are not as high as expected — through Thursday’s action, he had one home run and two doubles — his .456 on-base percentage had head coach Keith Griffin doing anything but complaining.
“He has tremendous hand-eye coordination,” said Griffin, who won five league championships in his first six seasons with the Mohawks. “He’s always swinging at strikes and drawing walks. I’m more of a first-pitch fastball guy than he is — every now and then, he’ll ambush one but he mostly takes his first one — but that works for him. I don’t fuss with him a lot like I do with some of the other guys who don’t have a plan at the plate. He has a really good plan that works for him.”
Comforted with the knowledge of where he is headed this fall, Yurchak said he is excited to finish his season with the Mohawks while also getting the chance to spend his summer at home after spending all but three weeks from mid-August to mid-May away from Clifton Park.
The best part about being home for an extended stay? That’s easy, he said.
“Mom’s cooking,” Yurchak said.