AMSTERDAM, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In sports, the number on the back of your jersey can carry a lot of weight. That was the case for Zach Eldred ahead of his junior season at SUNY Brockport. The bar was high for the former Columbia High School graduate, but he cleared it.
“At the beginning of the year, I got the honor of wearing the No. 3, which is Tommy Kretzler’s number – another local guy (Colonie High School grad) who won two player of the year’s,” said Eldred. “I was a little bit afraid and intimidated just to wear the number originally. And then to walk away with the honor that he won two years in a row was awesome.”
Not only did Eldred win Co-SUNYAC Player of the Year, hitting a staggering .389 with a league-leading 30 extra-base hits, he guided the Golden Eagles to their first conference championship since 2010.
“There’s guys who have been there for six years, who have been working towards it (a championship) and building up the culture,” said Eldred. “Every single year we’ve gotten a little bit closer. We made it apparent that we needed to get back there, and we finally finished the job. One of the bets moments of my career; probably number one.”
Eldred has returned to the Capital Region for the summer, and is now terrorizing opposing pitchers for the Amsterdam Mohawks in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. His .344 batting average ranks 11th in the league, while his four home runs and 24 runs batted in are fourth and sixth, respectively. He’s been one of the top hitters for a Mohawks team that’s first in the East Division at 29-2-1.
“This is the best team, the most talented team I’ve ever played on, and it is so much fun,” said Eldred. “We get a good crowd every night – a lot of fans, lot of people that love baseball coming here. It’s just so much fun playing for these people.”
Along with his sterling numbers at the plate, Eldred’s contributed on the mound as well for the Mohawks, starting four games. He’s posted a 1-0 record with a modest, 4.65 earned-run average, making him a two-way weapon for head coach Keith Griffin.
“He’s been a great asset offensively,” said Griffin. “Zach can hit at any level. He’s a real hitter. He takes a good path to the ball. Everything he’s done, he’s done really well. He doesn’t strike out. He’s got power. He’s got foot speed. He’s hit the ball really, really well. (And) he’s thrown well. So, he’s been a blessing; he’s been great for us.”
There’s two takeaways from his time in Amsterdam that Eldred hopes to bring with him back to Brockport in the fall.
“As much information as I can soak from Coach Griffin, and a winning culture; carrying (that) back to Brockport, and defending the title.”
Eldred and the Mohawks return home Saturday, and will pursue win No. 30 on the season against the Watertown Rapids. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m.