Marc My Words!

Marc Maturo’s official sports column

Summer-league ball heats up with the weather

        Collegiate, former collegiate, and perhaps future collegiate baseball players are already in action in the New Jersey Amateur Baseball League (NJABL) and the Westchester-Rockland Wood Bat League (WRWBL).

One club, The Rockland Royals, coming off participation in a Memorial Day weekend classic in Atlantic City, will host the fifth annual Vincent Crotty/Christopher Konkowski Memorial Tournament, scheduled June 20-22.

(League playoffs in the NJABL are scheduled the last week of July, with an opportunity to advance to the NABF regional in Hackensack and the NABF World Series in Michigan.)

The New City Outlaws are another club that will be taking part in the Crotty/Konkowski tournament, marking their third appearance.

In 2010, the Outlaws battled through the losers’ bracket before bowing to the Suffern Blue Devils in the Crotty/Konkowskichampionship contest.  Last year, however, the Outlaws turned back the Hastings Lookouts to take home the trophy.  The Outlaws’ Mike Oliva, in 2010, and Mike Mordeci and Wes Poppe, in 2011, earned MVP accolades.

The Outlaws, one of 10 teams in the WRWBL, open up tournament play on June 20 at 7:30 p.m. against the Rockland Royals at Valley Cottage Field.

The tournament is held each year in memory of former Suffern HS students Vincent Crotty of Montebello and Christopher Konkowski of Airmont, both of whom died tragically in an automobile accident in March 2010.

Frank Salerno, baseball in his blood
Frank Salerno, baseball in his blood

“I never met them, but from friends I just know they were good kids, inseparable, and they loved baseball,” said shortstop Frank Salerno of New City, who is into his third season with the Royals under the leadership of manager Vinnie Randazzo.

Salerno played four solid seasons at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, and worked out with the Rockland Boulders. His bid to make the Can-Am League Boulders has not yet worked out, but Salerno is not even close to giving up hardball.

“I have been asked to play softball, but I say no immediately; no way,” said Salerno, who is joined on the Royals by former STAC teammate and pitcher Tom Enright of Nanuet. “The [New] Jersey league is fun, but it’s pretty competitive.”

John Kukura, ends home run drought
John Kukura, ends home run drought

Another collegian honing his skills in summer ball is John Kukura of New City, who has joined the Rockland Cavaliers in the WRWBL after a fine rookie season on the Pace University ballclub.

Kukura is versatile; playing either in the outfield or at third base, and in a doubleheader at Peekskill Stadium blasted his first home run.

Kukura’s mom, Rita, made that game but missed the home run after getting lost en route to the field. Rita said her son posted doubles and triples for the Pace Setters, and at a mere 19 should develop more home run power.

“He’ll get it [HR] at Pace, definitely,” Rita predicts.

Other teams in the NJABL include Pete Recla’s Nyack Indians, who feature, among others, former Tappan Zee HS standout Ryan O’Rourke; John Verwoert’s Pearl River Salty Dogs; and the Rockland Astros, led by Perry Lopez.

For more information on the Crotty/Konkowskifoundation access: http://www.vincentcrotty.org/events.php

In a preliminary to the tournament, the fifth fund-raising Wing Night & Barbeque is set for June 7 at the Mahwah Elks Lodge (One Foxwood Lane, Suffern), from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., in cooperation with the Suffern PBA. Food, drinks, entertainment and a cash bar will be available.

Crotty-Konkowski Memorial Tournament Schedule

June 20: Rockland Royals vs. New City Outlaws, 7:30 p.m., Vincent Crotty Field, Suffern.

June 21 (all games at Suffern HS): Rockland Astros vs. Pearl River Salty Dogs, 10 a.m.; Outlaws vs. Hudson River Dogs, 12:30 p.m.;  Rutherford Rays vs. Salty Dogs, 12:30 p.m.; Astros vs. Rays, 3 p.m.; River Dogs vs. Royals, 5:30 p.m.

June 22 (Suffern HS): Semifinals; 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Championship, 3 p.m. 

      RECORD-SETTER:Rockland Boulders veteran outfielder Jerod Edmondsonscored two runs in a 14-8 victory at Quebec, giving the 30-year-old upstate Johnson City native a record-setting 388 runs in the Can-Am League. Edmondson, who hit .299 with 12 homers and 71 RBI last year with Rockland, played with the Worcester Tornadoes in 2012 and batted .255 with 14 homers and 59 RBI.Meanwhile, Ryan Stovall, another Boulders outfielder, was named the Pointstreak Player of the Week on the heels of teammate Steve Nyisztor’s honor. Stovall, who is second in the league with a .435 batting average, tied for second in homers with three and tied for third with 12 RBI, batted .500 in seven games in the marking period.The Boulders, now into their fourth season and under second-year manager Jamie Keefe,are at Provident Bank Park in Pomona on June 10 in a special School Day start at 10:30 a.m. against the New Jersey Jackals. The Boulders are home again for a three-game series against TroisRivieres on June 13-14-15. The Father’s Day game on June 15 starts at 2 p.m. For more information access: http://www.canamleague.com/teams/rockland.php

Logan Vazquez, on the right PaceQUICK HITTERS:North Rockland HS alum Logan Vazquez of Stony Point is one of 31 incoming recruits to the Pace University football program, and will play for first-year head coach Andrew Rondeau. Vazquez, a linebacker, had 81 tackles in his senior season at North Rockland, earning honorable mention all-county accolades playing for Coach Tom Lynch. “Logan is a guy who runs all over the field from sideline to sideline and is a solid tackler,” Coach Rondeau was quoted as saying. … Tom McDonnell, Jake and Joe Maraia, Sean Blinn and Adam Gloskin, all sophomores, led Clarkstown South to victory in the inaugural Trampoline Sports Basketball Challenge at Bounce! Trampoline Sports on Corporate Way in Valley Cottage. The Clarkstown South five completed 24 of 30 shots allowed for each team. A three-man team from Middletown HS took secondwhile a five-man team from Tappan Zee placed third. The TZ unit, all freshmen, was comprised of James Blomquist, Jhonny Mateo, AnastasiosMouzakis, Josiah Charles and Patrick Haggarty. Corner Bakery Café in Nanuet provided sandwiches and sweets. Future challenges are in the works, with those interested asked to contactMichael Gross at 845-268-4000. For more details access: www.bounceonit.com. … Army hockey head coach Brian Riley has named Brian Mahoney-Wilson as the Black Knights’ full-time volunteer assistant goalie coach. The former Lake Superior State standout comes to West Point after having spent last season as the goalie coach for the South Shore Kings’ Premier, Elite, and U18 teams out of the United States Premier Hockey League.

THIS & THAT:Horse racing and boxing fans will have a one-two punch at their disposal on June 7 at Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway. There will be live broadcasts of California Chrome’s Triple Crown bid in the Belmont Stakes (post time 6:52 p.m.) throughout the raceway’s simulcast locations. Following is the telecast from Madison Square Garden of WBC middleweight titlist Sergio Martinez vs. three-time champion Miguel Cotto, which begins at 9 p.m. at Dan Rooney’s Sports Bar on more than 40 HD TV screens. An outstanding undercard features Jorge Melendez vs. Yuri Foreman and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. vs. Marvin Sonsona. Seating is on a first-come/first-serve basis; for more information visit www.empirecitycasino.com.The Univision Deportes Network will dedicate 24-hour coverage of the FIFA World Cup and live-stream all 64 matches on mobile apps and online. UDN’s programming will be focused exclusively on the World Cup around the clock starting June 9, for the duration of the tournament. Access: (http://www.hispanictrending.net/2014/05/univisions-massive-world-cup-lineup-includes-live-streaming-64-matches-on-mobile-online.html