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Published: April 16, 2009 10:37 pm

NYCBL BASEBALL: Niagara’s roster is rounding into shape

By Nate Beutel
Niagara Gazette

Cal Kern was sick of seeing his team use its wooden bats like tooth picks.

So, the Niagara Power general manager rolled up his sleeves and found himself a few lumberjacks for this summer’s New York Collegiate Baseball League schedule. And not the ones you find walking the halls of North Tonawanda High School.

“The Power — we’re going with more power this year,” Kern said with a chuckle recently. “We went a little beefier. We wanted more punch and I think we’ve got it now.”

The Grand Island resident scoured the nation and landed at Lipscomb (Tenn.) University where he found 6-foot-3, 225 pound first baseman Tennyson Dodd. From there, he headed to Methodist (N.C.) University and hooked up with 6-foot-3, 230 pound designated hitter Marshall McDonald.

“Those are some big guys that give us legit bats in the four-, five-hole,” Kern said of the duo. “They both hit for power.”

The rest of the infield is built on defense and speed, two of the characteristics most endearing to third-year manager Sam Kirby. Central Connecticut State’s Angelo Buscemi returns from last summer and will play second base. Other infielders that have signed on include A.J. Roller (Southwest Baptist (Mo.) University), Andrew Ahrendt (Augustana (S.D.) College) and Brian Goodwin (Methodist (N.C.) University).

Kern believes the outfield is more balanced this season with Travis Latz (Abilene Christian (Tex.) University) slated for one of the corner spots and MidAmerica Nazarene’s Jake Gill set to play center field. Rounding out the outfield thus far is Eric Birch (Waldorf (Iowa) College), Mark Donahue (Chestnut Hill (Pa.) College), J.T. Pells (Cornell (Iowa) College) and Bob Harper (Penn State Brandywine).

Currently on the roster at catcher is highly-touted Stephen Cammuso out of Eastern Connecticut State and Jacan Warren of Mississippi College.

Kern has brought back a pair of hurlers from last year’s squad, Chris Kuenzle (Hannibal-LaGrange (Mo.) College) and Chris Hackett (University at Albany). Kern’s biggest prize of the offseason, though, is 6-foot-4, 245 pound right-hander Sam Moore out of Oral Roberts University. Moore, is the son of former major league pitcher Mike Moore, and will likely be at the top of Niagara’s rotation this summer, Kern said.

Other pitchers already signed include Anthony Powell (Pittsburg (Kan.) State), Josh Rebandt (Clearwater Christian (Fla.) College), Matt Schimpf (East Texas Baptist University), Michael Trainor (College of Mount Saint Vincent (N.Y.)) and Anthony Cimabue (Wilmington (Del.) University).

“I think our pitching will be OK this year,” Kern said. “We’re not sure yet who’s going to start and relieve, but we’ve got a lot of quality arms to choose from. That along with some improved defense and a little more pop in the lineup makes me excited for this season.”

Kern said he has sent out contracts to 25 players with 22 returned, all of which are listed above.

Joining Kirby on this summer’s coaching staff will be Aracelio Rivera and Eric Ebers. Rivera is the infield coach at De Anza (Calif.) College, while Ebers coaches high school pitchers in Mississippi.