Crush win NYCBL East; Flock gets 100th hit
Brian Smith, Sports Editor
The red-hot start to the New York Collegiate Baseball League season earned former North Harrison High School standout Alex Flock a hashtag from the Cortland Crush media team.
Playing in his third year with the Crush, it was a stellar season ” from start to finish ” for Flock. Prior to reaching the playoffs, Flock was among the top performers in several statistical categories: batting average (.380), RBIs (32), hits (49), runs (37), doubles (11), walks drawn (26), home runs (four) and stolen bases (17). He also committed only one error.
‘It was a lot of fun,’ Flock said. ‘The biggest thing for me this year was wanting to be consistent. Getting ahead early, especially with batting average, it’s hard to bring it up if you start slow. I wanted to start ahead and, if I were to fall off, make sure I started ahead. I was able to be consistent. I was happy with it.’
The accolades have rolled in for Flock as well. He was named to the wooden-bat league’s All-star team, the NYCBL All-league team and selected as one of the 2019 Top Pro Prospects as selected by league executives, coaches and the commissioner’s office.
‘One of our assistant coaches is an independent scout for a team in Texas, and he has expressed some interest that, after this season, if I don’t get drafted, he’d be interested in maybe sending me down there to play for the team he scouts,’ Flock said. ‘That’d be awesome. (Cortland) Coach (Bill McConnell) said scouts have looked me over, but the next step for me is to turn this into a positive school season and see what happens. We just won (an NAIA) National Championship (at Tennessee Wesleyan University), so we are going to have eyes on us. If I can keep doing what I am doing, anything can happen. I’m not ready to be done yet.’
Flock played a mix of infield and outfield for the Crush and hit primarily in the 2-hole.
‘(Professional) scouts have taken an interest in him this year,’ McConnell said. ‘He has a beautiful swing, and he now has the power. He also hits for average. He has a great mental approach. He’s confident and always looking for his pitch. He can go 0-2 but he’s still confident in his approach. It’s a great mental makeup with a beautiful swing. I think he’ll be a first baseman professionally.’
On top of the individual success, Flock was part of Cortland making its deepest run in the post-season tournament. They won a best of three series over the Syracuse Salt Cats (1-0, 3-1) to win the East Division title. In the championship versus the West Division champion Niagara Power, the Crush fell 10-6 and 12-6 in a best of three. Overall, the Crush finished 29-15-1.
‘This is the farthest the Crush have been in their history,’ Flock said. ‘We won the Eastern Division championship, and I was really glad to be part of that for Bill. He’s done a lot for me over the last three years. I was glad to reciprocate that to him a little bit to push the team further than it has before.’
Flock also earned the team Most Valuable Player award as voted on by his peers in the dugout along with a Silver Slugger Award.
‘He’s had an unbelievable offensive year,’ McConnell said. ‘He’s hit around .400 most of the season … It got to where people have started to pitch around him a little bit.’
Flock said pitchers began to work him differently after his blazing start. More off-speed pitches were thrown earlier in counts. Plus, seeing a ball on the inner-half of the plate became more rare as the season progressed.
‘It was important for me to see a lot of pitches,’ he said. ‘I was comfortable hitting with two strikes, which is something I wasn’t as strong with in the past. Getting to two strikes with the ability to still battle, compete and to still come up with hits was nice.’
Flock was the first to reach 100 career hits with the Crush during the season as well. McConnell had the public address announcer recognize the achievement during the game.
‘It’s a really well-run organization, and Bill does a really good job,’ Flock said. ‘He’s first class, for sure.’
Flock wasn’t the lone former North Harrison player on the Crush roster this season. He was joined by Brad Nowak (SUNY Brockport) and younger brother Max Flock (Vincennes University).
‘Max and Brad there, it was great because I hadn’t seen Brad since high school,’ Alex said. ‘Brad got a hold of me through Instagram about a month and half before we got up there and asked if I was going to Cortland again. He said he was going to be up there too. It was awesome.’
The trio roomed together with another teammate as well.
‘If I was ever in a rut or had a bad game, Max would be there to pick me up,’ Alex said. ‘He reminded me it was just one bad game. He was my rock. There was no way I’d have the success this year without Max there. He’s always been in my corner. It was a blessing to have him there.’
After playing nearly 120 games since February due to a national championship run in college and a play-off push in summer baseball, Alex said it was time for a break.
‘I’m giving up baseball for a few weeks because it’s been a grind,’ he said. ‘I haven’t been home since January, and I’ve played about 115 to 120 games since then. I’m trying to relax and let my body recover a little bit. I could go back at it right now, for sure, but it’s time for a break.’
Former North Harrison baseball coach Jamie Polk isn’t surprised by Alex’s success.
‘Out of high school, the knock was he’s not big enough,’ Polk said. ‘They loved his swing and how he played, but he just wasn’t big enough. We knew he’d put on weight once he concentrated on baseball, and he did.’