COLLEGE SPORTS NOTEBOOK 5/9/13

The College Sports Notebook is compiled by veteran sports writer and columnist Marc Maturo, a lifetime member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). The notebook will be published every Thursday. Please send items of interest to marcmaturo@aol.com.

Rockland CC reigns supreme on the diamond

Sparked by tournament MVP Scott Peschiani and shortstop Anthony Barbetto of New City, the Rockland Community College baseball team defeated longtime rival Westchester CC in an epic Region XV title game and advanced to the National Junior College Athletic Association East District tournament.

The Hawks, outlasting the Vikings, 9-8, in a game that featured six lead changes at historic Cantine Field in Saugerties, will be competing in the double-elimination district tournament May 11-12 at Monroe Community College in Rochester.

Another championship effort will send the Hawks to the NJCAA World Series, beginning May 25 in Oklahoma. The last RCC team to advance to the World Series was managed by current athletic director Dan Keeley, in 1992.

Joe Zeccardi, championship skipper.jpg
Joe Zeccardi, championship skipper

“Absolutely, that’s on our list, one of our goals, for sure,” replied three-time Mid-Hudson Conference coach of the year Joe Zeccardi of New City, when asked whether his Hawks had any hopes of traveling to Oklahoma.

If playing team ball will have any influence, then RCC is in good position, added Zeccardi, a lifelong county resident who attended St. Joseph’s in Montvale, N.J., before playing at Long Island University as an infielder/pitcher, and then three seasons professionally in Italy.

“This year this team really defines the ‘team’ concept. It was a collective effort,” said Zeccardi. “We had solid pitching, good defense, timely hitting. It’s a formula for success at any level. Not any one player carried us. I’m most proud of how we went from fifth place last year with freshmen, to the Mid-Hudson and region championships as sophomores. They overcame a lot.”

Barbetto, said the skipper, turned into an outstanding player in the middle of the field, a key facet on winning teams, and said that Staten Islanders Matt Kostalos and Nick Thorgersen are the top starting pitchers. “Either one can be considered No. 1,” he said.

Another stalwart has been pitcher/first baseman Dominick Kulbaba of Suffern, the brother of outfielder/DH Nick Kulbaba, who was named to the all-Region XV tournament team along with Thorgersen, Kostalos and third baseman Victor Sanchez of Haverstraw, a graduate of North Rockland H.S.

In the title game Peschiani, an alum of Monroe-Woodbury HS, twice untied the game.  With two outs in the seventh, Peschiani blasted a two-run homer to give Rockland a 7-6 lead.  Westchester then took an 8-7 advantage on a two-run triple by Jeremey Guerrero in the bottom of the inning.  Peschiani came through a second time with a clutch two-run single in the top of the ninth.  The sophomore went 3-for-5 with a triple, home run, and seven RBI.

Kostalos picked up the save in relief to give the Hawks their first Region XV Championship since 2007.

“I knew we had talent, but you really can’t expect to win it all. We did it, but it wasn’t easy, I can tell you that,” concluded Zeccardi, a teacher in the East Ramapa Central School District who also played pro ball three seasons in Italy.

Westchester out-hit Rockland (11-9) and was led by Guerrero’s 3-for-4 and 3 RBI performance.  Justin Cassinelli and Mark DeMilio each had two hits for Vikings, which ended their season with a 34-16 record.

Barbetto, a recent Mid-Hudson Conference player of the week choice, went 1-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI for the Hawks, who lifted their record to 21-15. .

RCC advanced to the final with a 2-1 victory, also over WCC as  Thorgersen went all nine innings and survived several threats to earn a 2-1 victory. Nick Kulbaba had two key hits for Rockland, which managed just five all told.

Warner a winner on and off the field

Shane Warner, exemplifies community spirit
Shane Warner, exemplifies community spirit
Shane Warner, senior lacrosse standout
Shane Warner, senior lacrosse standout

Shane Warner of Tomkins Cove, who recently completed a four-year career as a midfielder and a senior captain on the Binghamton University lacrosse team, has received greater recognition perhaps for his work off the friendly fields of strife.

The North Rockland HS graduate, a consistent four-year performer on the field for the Bearcats, is also a standout in the classroom and community.

This past summer, as noted in a release issued by the One Love Foundation, Warner spent more than two weeks in Uganda with the Fields of Growth grassroots lacrosse program. While there, Shane ran lacrosse clinics, visited schools and orphanages, donating time to help the program build the ‘Hopeful School’ in Masaka. Since his return, he has committed himself to helping this cause and recruited his teammates to raise money for program.

Warner has been called to action in nearly 40 games over the last three season, and this year he has contributed two goals and two assists,  while maintaining a 3.8 cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA).

For his off-the-field efforts Warner has been named a finalist for the 2013 Yeardley Reynolds Love Unsung Hero Award by the One Love Foundation, which was created in honor of former University of Virginia lacrosse player Yeardley Love who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend.

“I never heard of it (award) before, but when I found out I looked into it and it’s real interesting,” said Warren. “I knew about the murder but not the award. It’s an honor just to be in consideration.”

The Unsung Hero Award celebrates the selfless acts of initiative and commitment performed by Division I lacrosse players, based on the following criteria:  dedication, integrity, humility, hard work, community service, leadership, kindness and sportsmanship.

Five women and five men have been selected as finalists for this year’s award. These finalists will be represented in the June issue of Inside Lacrosse magazine, the award’s  media partner.

The award was established in 2011, and was formerly given to lacrosse players in the ACC Conference. It was opened this year to all Division I programs. The award recognizes accomplishments of student-athletes who help their team achieve success in ways that may not be measured in goals, saves or ground balls, and it is especially meaningful because it places value on characteristics that are often undervalued in the competitively charged environment of college athletics.

Warner honed his skills as a player in youth leagues, and then was a three-sport standout at North Rockland HS, where his older sisters Briana and Casey also starred and where his dad, Peter, has been an assistant football coach for 40 years, the bulk under Joe Casarella and then under his replacement, Tom Lynch.

Warner was player of the year in lacrosse in 2008, and a runner-up in 2009, while also playing football and basketball.

“He’s good at a lot of things, including academics and please highlight the academics,” offered Warner the Elder. “I’m very proud of what he has done, I’m proud of all of them. They all loved sports and took advantage of it, and they are still involved.”

Briana is a 2010 graduate of Virginia Tech where she played lacrosse two years, and now attends grad school in Virginia; Casey is a 2009 graduate of Virginia Tech where she played lacrosse three years, and is now an assistant coach at South County HS in Lorten, Va.

Shane will graduate shortly, and attends to pursue a master’s degree in education. He hopes to eventually teach at the high school level and coach football in the fall, and lacrosse in the spring.

“The party’s over (in two weeks),” said a worldly-wise dad, who notes that lacrosse is obviously Shane’s best sport.

“But he loved them all, he’ll play anything,” added Peter, who retired from teaching 10 years ago but retained his coaching status. “Actually, they all played three sports from the seventh grade.”

“I love the North Rockland community; they’ve been great for me and my family,” concluded the family patriarch.

Shane, in turn, has played a continuing role in community action, with his nomination as a finalist for the Unsung Hero Aware merely icing on the cake.

ALL HAIL THE CHAMPIONS

The show goes on at SUNY Cortland.

Powered by freshman Erica Geremia  of Camillus, who had three goals and five assists, the nationally fourth-ranked SUNY Cortland women’s lacrosse team has earned an automatic bid in the NCAA Division III championship playoffs in resounding fashion.

Tara Monaghan of Stony Point, another freshman stalwart for the top-seeded Red Dragons, added a goal – her 26th on the season — as Cortland defeated third-seeded Geneseo, 12-5, to nail down the SUNYAC title while elevating their remarkable record to 18-1.

In the SUNYAC semifinals, North Rockland HS alumna Monaghan registered a game-high seven draw controls as the Red Dragons waylaid The College at Brockport, 16-6.

HAWKS HONORED

On the golf course, Coach Tom “T-bone” Craffey’s Rockland CC squad finished third in the Region XV tournament, and placed three members on the Mid-Hudson all-Conference team. Named to the first team were Californian Benedict Tagle, Brian McGarvey of Pearl River, and team captain Mike Cavanagh of Haverstraw.

QUICK HITTERS

Amanda Babcock of Haverstraw, a senior infielder on the Manhattan  College softball team, has earned a spot on the ballot for the Capital One Academic all-America team. Babcock, a two-time Metro Athlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) all-Academic selection, ranks third on the Jaspers with a .326 batting average, and her 29 runs and eight doubles are second-best on the team. The North Rockland HS graduate earned a chance at national recognition by being named to the all-District I team. The Jaspers (21-25) concluded the regular season by splitting a doubleheader at Quinnipiac. … Senior Amber Stephens of Stony Point, a North Rockland HS alumna, won the triple jump at 11.51 meters (37 feet 9 ¼ inches) as the SUNY Cortland women’s track and field team won its third straight SUNYAC title and its 16th overall at the Red Dragons’ Stadium complex. Cortland won the meet with 244 points with Buffalo State a distant second with 129 points and Brockport third with 116. Rounding out the field were Geneseo (103.5), Plattsburgh (71), Oneonta (67), Fredonia (49.5) and Oswego (37). Stephens & Co. are back in action at the ECAC Division III Championships May 16-17 at Springfield (Mass.) College. … Sophomore right-hander Mike Scarinci of Nanuet has a 3.77 ERA in 17 appearances for the Manhattan College baseball team. The Jaspers (21-25) are home for a three-game set against Fairfield University (14-27), starting with a noon doubleheader in Riverdale on May 11 and concluding with one game at noon on May 12. The Jaspers will honor their seven graduating seniors prior to the first game on May 11. … Freshman backstop Alex Fishberg of Suffern has appeared in nine games, with three starts, for the Iona College baseball team. The Gaels  (7-35) visit formidable Rider College (29-17) in Lawrenceville, N.J., for a noon doubleheader on May 11, and a single game at noon on May 12. … St. Thomas Aquinas College freshman goalkeeper

Kaitlyn Lonergan bars the door
Kaitlyn Lonergan bars the door

Kaitlyn Lonergan of Stony Point was named East Coast Conference (ECC) rookie of the week for the fourth time this season. The North Rockland HS graduate recorded 14 saves in the voting period including 11 on the road in a 10-9 win over Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry. The Lady Spartans went 12-4 on the season.