Sports columnist Marc Maturo today launches Marc My Words, his official column
BY MARC MATURO
Diamond gems, young and old, swing away
Baseball devotees, step up and take notice: there’s a solid brand of baseball available in the 17-team North Jersey Amateur Baseball League (NJABL), an organization for players 18 and over and which includes five teams in the North Division housed right here in Rockland County.
The NJABL might not stack up to the more celebrated and highly competitive Cape Cod League or Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League (ACBL), but it’s a viable summer outlet for current and former collegiate players, ex-minor-league players and even a few who reached the big leagues. Heading an illustrious alumni class are pitcher Ryan Fasano, who played with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2012; infielder Mike Aviles, now playing with the Cleveland Indians; and Robbie Aviles, pitching for the Lake County Captains in the Class A Midwest League, whose parent club is Cleveland.
“It’s a decent league,” commented Ed Ahearn of Hackensack, N.J., who ran the NJABL for several years as head of a three-man group. “It’s definitely been watered down over the years, though, because of showcases and college tournaments. They have taken away a lot of the top-tier players, but it’s still a very competitive brand of baseball.”
The NJABL, with an additional six teams in the Central Division and another six in the South, also provides an outlet for the so-called “old-timers,” those aging men in knickers who enjoy defying Father Time.
“Some of us are old-timers,” admitted long-time skipper Mike St. John, a mere lad of 33 whose Nyack Indians – formed years ago with Nyack HS alumni, thus the Indians nickname – also feature veteran infielder and original organizer Pete Recla, timeless right-hand hurler Ken Pommerencke, and another seasoned righty Mark Stanford, the Tappan Zee HS coach who also plays first base.
The most seasoned of all, however, has to be Dan Tauken of New City, a 49-year-old ex-minor-league hurler who can still toss the pill 60 feet 6 inches.
St. John, who continues to put on the “tools of ignorance” behind the plate, is finally giving way to youth. In his case, to Sean Siegriest, son of the late Nyack HS coach Dave Siegriest, whose assistant on the varsity was the aforementioned Mr. Recla.
“He (Sean) gets the hard throwers on 95-degree days,” laughed St. John, naming Ted Broderick as another veteran catcher, and the team’s power hitter.
The Rockland Royals, managed by 10-year veteran Vinnie Randazzo of Suffern, who also played in college at Rockland CC and Mercy College, also showcases an elder statesman in the form of catcher Jon Cosme of Garnerville. Cosme, who at 30 years of age is the oldest Royal, is an alum of Dominican College who will share duties behind the plate with Iona College sophomore Alex Fishberg of Suffern.
Youth must be served
The Rockland Astros, on the other hand, are loaded with young talent, not surprising for an organization that touts its 18U program, which is headed by former big-league pitcher and Albertus Magnus HS head coach Pat Gorman of Pearl River.
Perry Lopez of Congers, now in his sixth year as director of the Astros, noted that last season he had 17 college players on the roster and scheduled a game at Clarkstown South HS against a traveling Irish National Team. This year, Lopez hopes to put together an outside game against either the New York Police Department or New York Fire Department. Managing the Astros is Mike Nassisi of Nyack, a Purchase College assistant coach who replaces Brian Smith of Stony Point. Smith managed the Astros the last two seasons.
The Astros pitching staff, replete with talent, includes right-hander Joe DePool of New City, a recent St. Thomas Aquinas College graduate who led the Spartans in wins; right-hander Anthony Calise of Pearl River and Fairleigh Dickinson University; righty Colin Kelly of Nanuet, out of Catholic University in Washington, D.C.; Casey Kern of Stony Point, a southpaw who just completed his rookie season at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia after being graduated from Albertus Magnus HS; and Frankie Fantino, another left-handed twirler out of Southern New Hampshire University.
The infield features Purchase College graduate Dan Stroud of Nyack, and Albertus Magnus graduate Corey Lopez of Congers, while an outfield mainstay is Clarkstown South graduate Alex Lorenc, out of St. Joseph’s College of Maine.
A merger of sorts
The Indians have added some new faces following the breakup of the Orangeburg Nationals. Among those coming over are Tappan Zee HS graduate Ryan O’Rourke, who has forsaken his role as a catcher to play the outfield, and hard-throwing right-hand pitcher Bryan Harlberg, who played in the minors with the Houston Astros organization.
“He’s our ace this year,” offered St. John. “He’s still a power pitcher — in the high 80s (mph), and in the low 90s here and there.”
Like the Indians, Randazzo’s Royals boast a deep pitching staff, with Tom Enright of Nanuet, a graduate of St. Thomas Aquinas College, providing depth from the left side. A group of right-handers is anchored by Mike Aviles, a Suffern HS and St. Thomas Aquinas College graduate who was drafted by the Seattle Mariners two years ago. Mike is the elder brother of Robbie, the Indians’ minor-league prospect.
Also solid on the mound are Clarkstown South alum J.J. Giordano of New City, Clarkstown North and STAC alum Joe Ferrara of Congers, and Albany graduate Vincent Martorelli of Stony Point.
Assisting Randazzo is Suffern HS and STAC graduate Jared Randazzo, the manager’s son who mans the second-base position. Other standouts are shortstop Victor Sanchez of Garnerville and the power-hitting Tommy Natoli, a Suffern HS alum who gave up ice hockey and went back to baseball.
“He was a stud at Becker (Mass.) College,” said Randazzo the skipper. “He bats lefty and throws right-handed. He’ll play first base and right field.”
Other clubs in the North Division of the NJABL are the Pearl River Salty Dogs, managed by John Verwoert, and the Clarkstown Clippers, skippered by John Ruffolo. (Ed note: these clubs will be highlighted in future issues of this newspaper.)
Dates to watch: June 28-30, annual Crotty/Konkowski Memorial tournament. This event, in its seventh year, will be held at Suffern HS and Suffern Recreation Park to benefit local foundations honoring two Suffern athletes who lost their lives tragically.
For more information on the NJAB L, including team schedules, access: http://www.leaguelineup.com/welcome.asp?url=njbaseballhttp://www.leaguelineup.com/welcome.asp?url=njbaseball
MEGHAN KING of New City, a sophomore two-sport standout at The College of New Rochelle, was named to the Association of Division III Independents (AD3I) all-Independent softball team. King, who is also a leading volleyball player for the Blue Angels, led the team in games played and games started, missing just two games. The Clarkstown North HS alumna recorded team-highs in at-bats, hits, doubles, total bases and putouts. Playing primarily at first base, King earned AD3I player of the week honors on April 16 to become the first Blue Angel softball player to receive the accolade.
MAEVE PARAHUS of Congers has committed to the Manhattan College women’s basketball team, and will join the Jaspers’ six-player recruiting class for the 2013-14 season. A 6-foot-1 guard, Parahus earned all-state, all-section and team MVP honors at Albertus Magnus HS, while helping the Falcons make three consecutive Section 1 semifinal appearances. Parahus averaged 18 points per game last season after being named the team’s Most Improved Player as a sophomore. “Maeve’s a flat-out tremendous outside shooter who can also take it to the rim or pull-up for a jump shot,” coach John Olenowski said on the Jaspers’ website. “She’s also a sound defensive player and rebounds well. A very good athlete, she brings us great versatility.”
THIS & THAT
REGISTRATION IS OPEN for Rockland FC, a countywide youth soccer organization for boys and girls U8 through U16. Teams compete in the Westchester Youth Soccer League, reported to be the second-largest in the state. Rockland FC is a local club for local players, and the 2013-14 season includes fall, winter and spring schedules. For more information access www.rocklandfc.com, or call 845-821-7311.
THE BUSINESS OF SPORTS NETWORK is hosting two informal networking events, one in New York on June 11: http://www.thebusinessofsports.com/events/the-business-of-sports-new-york-networking-event-june-2013/ and one in Boston on June 12: http://www.thebusinessofsports.com/events/the-business-of-sports-boston-networking-event/ Click on each link for more info.
THE RECREATION AND PARKS department in the Town of Clarkstown provides a bevy of youth and adult leagues. For information access http://www.town.clarkstown.ny.us/html/recreation_parks_sports.html.
THE ORANGETOWN PARKS & RECREATION department will again be conducting a series of summer concerts, held on Friday evenings and free to the public. The five scheduled concerts, beginning on July 12 at 7:45 p.m., are held at Veterans Memorial Park in Orangeburg. In the event of inclement weather, the concerts are moved to the air-conditioned Pearl River HS auditorium. For concert information, or other summer programs, contact the recreation office at 845-359-6503, or access http://www.orangetown.com.
THE ORANGEBURG VOLUNTEER FIRE ASSOCIATION’s annual carnival continues June 6-9 at Dominican College off Western Highway. Fireworks Night is scheduled June 8. For information email email@example.com, or call 845-570-9315.
NBC SPORTS seeks a Digital Business Development Director based in Stamford, Conn., to develop and implement strategies and business development projects, Olympics and other sports digital brands. Apply at https://sjobs.brassring.com/TGWEbHost/jobdetails.aspx?partnerid=25354&siteid=5108&areq=9752BR.