Marc Maturo’s official sports column
Spartans expected to sparkle again on the diamond
The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team in Sparkill is already flying high – not only en route to the sunshine and warmth in Florida, but as the coaches’ preseason choice to repeat as East Coast Conference (ECC) champion.
In addition, the Spartans’ Stanley Susana, an alum of Cardinal Hayes HS, was selected as the preseason player of the year following an outstanding sophomore season. Susana, an infielder, hit.367 last year playing in every game as STAC compiled a sparkling 39-14 overall mark, going 19-5 in ECC competition.
Susana, one of many in a strong core of returnees for veteran coach Scott Muscat of West Haverstraw, led the Spartans with 55 runs, was second with 48 RBI and stole 27 bases in 31 attempts and was named to the all-ECC and all-Region teams. As a freshman, Susana was the ECC rookie of the year.
This season, Muscat noted, Susana is moving from third base to shortstop to fill a position previously held by the since-graduated Frank Salerno of New City. (No one, Muscat added, has yet to nail down the third base position for this season.)
“Susana is one of the better hitters in the entire East region,” said Muscat. “He hits with power, and has speed.”
Another key returnee is junior right fielder Rich Baerga of Pomona, who is a preseason all-America selection by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) following last year’s all-Region acclaim.
“He is fast, and will hit either at the top of the order on No. 9,” said Muscat, who was named coach of the year in 2013 by the ECC and NCBWA after the Spartans set a school record for victories and secured their first-ever bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament.
In the preseason poll, the Spartans received five first-place votes among the seven in the conference, with Dowling College claiming the other two.
“What it means is that we’re picked to win the entire thing,” said Muscat. “It means we had a good team last year and our core players are returning. So the coaches, they think we should finish in the same position we finished in last year. We’re looking good again.”
Other key players coming back include senior Stephen Sunday of Scranton, Pa.; first baseman Kenny Kirshner of Cornwall-on-Hudson; junior outfielder Derek Hirsch of Melville; and pitchers Robert Frank of Closter, N.J., Rob Naughton of Levittown, and 6-foot-7 southpaw Eric Cooper of Brooklyn.
Naughton, a graduate of Chaminade HS, went 6-1 last season, not losing until the Regional Tournament and earning ECC rookie of the year accolades. “As a pitcher, that’s pretty impressive,” enthused Muscat.
Cooper, recovering from elbow surgery, and Frank, recovering from elbow surgery, are not at full strength but should be 100 percent by mid-season. Frank, out of St. Joseph Regional HS in Montvale, N.J., threw a no-hitter last season and in another game struck out 15 and was a two-time National Division II pitcher of the week.
Also listed as pitchers are freshmen Anthony Morris of New City and Gregory Morano of Congers.
Among other newcomers expected to contribute are Sullivan CC transfer Mike Gonzalez, a right-handed pitcher who will start, and second baseman Omar Cuevas, a transfer from Monroe CC.
An addition to the coaching staff is Nick Barbalato of Mahopac, who played for Muscat the last four years and ranks second on the school’s all-time hit list with 215. Other coaches are Jon Garvey, Justin Karn and Manny DelRosario.
The Spartans swing into action on March 8 at Wekiva HS in Apopka, Fla., against Stonehill Colleges. STAC then shifts to Rollins College in Winter Park beginning with games against Bentley University on March 9-10-11.
CARDINALS MAKE HISTORY: Sophomore forward Devona Paul of Blauvelt, a Tappan Zee HS graduate, had three blocked shots to share game-high honors, pulled down four rebounds and scored seven points as the women’s basketball team at Plattsburgh defeated visiting Geneseo, 57-52. The Cardinals, who improved to 22-5 in capturing their first SUNYAC Tournament title, will receive an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Tournament – another first for the program.
NEW YEAR, NEW HOPE: The Dominican College men’s lacrosse team, which went winless last season, is hopeful of better things this time around. The Chargers, laden with Rockland County athletes, travel to Rindge, N.H., on March 8 to challenge Franklin Pierce University at 2 p.m., and then meet Assumption College of Worcester, Mass., on March 11 at the Torne Valley Sports Complex in Hillburn at 4 p.m. Among the players Coach Bill Kurisko is counting upon include midfielders Anton Gjeloshi and Daniel Palazzo, both of Pomona; midfielder Peter Blickley of Pearl River; midfielder Tom Dentinger of Nanuet; attack Connor Reeves, a Tappan Zee HS alum; senior star goalie Matt Quinones of Nanuet; defenseman William “Billy the Kid” Madigan of Blauvelt; midfielder Kessler Felix of Nyack; and midfielder Sean Driscoll of Stony Point.
BOUND FOR NATIONALS: Track standout Winslow Dorsainvil of Monsey will represent St. Thomas Aquinas College of Sparkill in the 60 meters at the Division II National Championship in Winston-Salem, N.C. Winslow, ranked 14th overall in the country, will run in the preliminaries on March 7. A graduate of Spring Valley HS, Winslow is a two-time state scholastic champion in the 55 and a state champ in the 100. For the Spartans, Dorsainvil is all-East Coast Conference in the 60 meters, 200 meters and 4×200 relay. Recently Dorsainvil, graduate student Garvenchy Nicolas of Brooklyn and senior Allison Borriello of Montgomery set school records at the Boston University Last Chance Meet. Dorsainvil established a standard in the 60 with a time of 6.79 while Nicolas set a school mark in the 800 with a time of 1:54.53 and Borriello clocked 2:16.69 in the 800.
QUICK HITTERS: Sophomore Tara Monaghan of Stony Point, a North Rockland HS graduate, had a goal and an assist as the nationally fourth-ranked Cortland women’s lacrosse team opened the season with a 20-4 rout of Union College in Schenectady. … The Oneonta women’s basketball team, which had defeated Cortland twice during the regular season, was upended 67-58 at home in the SUNYAC tournament quarterfinals. Senior guard Kelly Mulligan of Pearl River scored four points with three rebounds and two steals as Oneonta fell to 18-8. … Junior Diana Desir of Spring Valley, a standout volleyball player at The College of New Rochelle, was named a repeat selection to the Hudson Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (HVIAC) 2013 Fall all-Academic Team. … Sophomore Taylor Redmond of Nanuet, a state scholastic champion in floor exercise in 2012, is competing in all-around on the gymnastics team at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. The Colonials travel to the University of New Hampshire in Durham on March 8 along with Penn State and Bridgeport. … Freshman Vincent Barbetto of New City, who plays attack, is a member of the Pace University lacrosse team. Barbetto — the all-time assists leader at Clarkstown North HS — and the Pleasantville-based Setters open the season in Syracuse on March 8, meeting Le Moyne College at noon. The Setters return home on March 13, entertaining Dominican College of Orangeburg at 3:30 p.m.… Senior midfielder Greg Mooney of Pearl River had a potential game-tying shot thwarted in the closing seconds as the nationally second-ranked Cortland men’s lacrosse team outlasted visiting Union College, 7-6, at the Stadium Complex. Mooney, a Nanuet HS graduate, had scored two goals including a clutch shot that tied the score at 6-6. Union meets Babson College on March 8 at 1 p.m. in Babson Park, Mass., and then hosts Wesleyan University on March 12 at 4 p.m. at Frank Bailey Field in Schenectady. … Junior infielder Anthony Simon of Suffern is batting .429 on the nationally 10th-ranked SUNY Cortland baseball team, which won five of its first six games and is bound for Auburndale, Fla., to compete in the RussMatt Central Florida Invitation from March 9-15. Simon, an alum of Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., has three RBI for the Red Dragons. … The Ithaca College men’s lacrosse team, an Empire 8 preseason second-place selection, meets Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa., at 1 p.m. on March 8, and then challenges St. Lawrence University
on March 12 in Tampa, Fla. The upstate Bombers’ defense corps includes senior James Burke of New City, who was a multiple all-county and all-section choice at Clarkstown South HS. … Jordan Levine of Nyack, an associate director of athletics at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry and a five-year player in Major League Lacrosse, is the Mavericks’ head coach in men’s lacrosse. Junior Anthony Accardi of Valley Cottage is a midfielder for the Mavericks, who host Saint Anselm College of Manchester, N.H., on March 8 at 1 p.m., and then travel to Albany on March 11 to meet The College of Saint Rose at 3 p.m. … John Doherty of Pearl River is a freshman pitcher on the baseball team at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J. The Roadrunners will be in Winter Haven, Fla., for eight games from March 15-22. … North Rockland HS graduate Rebecca Sassone of Pomona is a first-year member of the rowing team at the University of Delaware. The Blue Hens are scheduled to compete against Saint Joseph’s on March 8 on the
Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. … Jose Rodriguez of Pomona is a senior catcher on the Nyack College baseball team, which concludes a Florida trip on March 10 in Fort Pierce. The Warriors return to New York on March 13 to meet Briarcliffe College on Long Island. … The Rockland CC women’s basketball team defeated Westchester CC, 79-61, in the first round of the Region XV Tournament.
THIS & THAT: Registration is open and county teams are eligible for the Continental Amateur Baseball Association (CABA) 18U Metal Bat World Series scheduled July 7-12 in Struthers, Ohio. Access http://www.leaguetime.com/Affiliation/Details/2 or contact Ken Quinn at 330 719-0581.