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Preparing for postseason

‘Teaching baseball,’ Basile has Jamestown on right track

Times Observer Photo by Scott Kindberg Jamestown Tarp Skunks manager Jordan Basile, left, looks on with pitching coach Barry Powell during Saturday’s Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League game against the Batavia Muckdogs at Diethrick Park.

Randy Anderson admits to being “hugely biased.”

He also is very honest when asked his opinion on virtually any topic. So as he stood in the press box at Diethrick Park on Saturday night as Jamestown was taking on Batavia in a Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League contest, it wasn’t hard to take him at his word when he was asked his assessment of Tarp Skunks manager and Jamestown native Jordan Basile this summer.

“I haven’t seen anyone that runs a better ballclub than Jordan,” said Anderson, a member of the Jamestown Community Baseball LLC board of directors.

As one example, Anderson pointed at the Tarp Skunks’ dugout. Every player was standing on the top step, save for one pitcher who was stationed in the bullpen.

“He’s got every guy engaged,” Anderson continued. “I like how he manages the game, I like how he interacts with the players, and the players love playing for him. Several players have commented they’ve learned more baseball in the two months they’ve been here this summer than they did all last year at their college.

Times Observer Photo by Scott Kindberg Jamestown Tarp Skunks manager Jordan Basile, center, speaks to his team during Saturday’s Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League game against the Batavia Muckdogs at Diethrick Park in Jamestown.

“Jordan isn’t just coaching baseball, he’s teaching baseball.”

It’s hard to argue with the results.

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Although the Tarp Skunks lost at Batavia on Sunday, the West Division champions enter the final week of the regular season with a 27-14 record, five games in front of the Muckdogs. That’s pretty impressive when one considers the last time Jamestown fielded a team in the PGCBL was 2018 when it won the league crown as the Jammers. Anthony Barone, another Jamestown native, was at the helm of that crew.

About 1,000 days passed before the rebranded franchise played another PGCBL game. The 2019 season was “dark” and the 2020 campaign was lost to COVID-19, which left Basile, who was hired as manager almost exactly two years ago, with a rather daunting task.

“Jordan was brand new to the league,” Anderson said. “He didn’t know what he was getting into.”

But Basile did have an impressive track record to fall back on.

In addition to being a member of the SUNY Fredonia Athletics Hall of Fame, Basile has worked in player development with the Detroit Tigers at its spring training headquarters in Lakeland, Florida; secured positions as an assistant coach for the University at Buffalo and Lake Erie College; was the head coach at Patrick Henry Community College; served as an adviser to USA Baseball; and is now the head baseball coach at Jamestown CC.

In other words, the man knows the game and how to get the players to buy into the program.

“That just shows his ability to coach,” Anderson said.

Tarp Skunks’ assistant coach Barry Powell, who has spent 45 years in baseball, including one season with Basile at Patrick Henry CC, agrees.

“He does a very good job,” said Powell, who has also served as a Major League scout for Philadelphia, Florida and Kansas City. “He kind of decides which horses we’re going to put out there, I try and support him and we try and get the most out of them.”

Entering tonight’s home game against Niagara, Basile and Powell have been able to do that, making ample use of “small ball” to find ways to score runs. At last report, Jamestown is sixth in the league in batting, but first in doubles and sacrifice flies; second in runs, sacrifice bunts and stolen bases; and fourth in walks and on-base percentage.

On the mound, the Tarp Skunks are seventh in the 15-team league in earned run average, but first in saves and second in complete games.

“The fans like the style of baseball that Jordan is managing here,” Anderson said.

And, according to Powell, the players like being here.

“(Jordan) went out and got these guys, and we tried to form a chemistry,” he said. “These guys have bonded together. It’s like they’ve played together all their lives. They’ve learned baseball and they’ve been able to (improve) their skills, but it’s also about making memories. They’ll remember this 20 or 30 years from now. It’s nothing but pluses. Hopefully, it will get better and, hopefully, in our run to the playoffs we’ll do well, but if not, it’s been a success from what I see.”

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The Tarp Skunks had a late lead Saturday night before surrendering four runs in the top of the ninth inning and falling to Batavia 7-3, but Basile’s mood was upbeat as he sat in his office postgame.

“Success starts with your surroundings,” he said. “I’ve said this four or five times now in different ways, (but) truly the success is the area that we live in, the community that’s been supporting us every day, to help us keep our heads up during tough times. … I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: These guys — every time you listen to them talk — are saying, ‘This is the summer of 2021,’ and that’s because of everything we have in the community and the support we have every single day.”

Anderson agrees, because he believes “we’re doing everything right here.”

“We’re winning games, we’ve got the best uniforms in the league, we’ve got the best ballpark in the league, we feed the players the best of anybody in the league and we have the best housing in the league.”

And, from Anderson’s view from the roof of the ballpark that is celebrating its 80th year, the best leader — Basile — for this group of young men.

On a personal note, my earliest memory of Basile was more than 20 years ago when he was playing in the Jamestown Babe Ruth League. Back then, he was usually hitting at the top of the lineup, he seemed to always be on base and he was always doing the little things that made his team better.

Fast-forward a couple decades and nothing has changed, except the job title he now holds.

That’s why, if I had a vote, Basile would be my choice as the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League Manager of the Year.

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