ABy Sean Maleady ’17 and Justin Caccavo ’20
As the wintry snow melts, the days get longer, and the cool breeze turns warm, spring ushers in a new baseball season. Having now completed rigorous tryouts, the 2017 Chaminade varsity baseball team has taken the field in pursuit of a championship season. Scrimmaging other varsity units such as St. Francis Prep, Molloy, Syosset, Seaford, and Garden City, the Flyers have been preparing to face fierce competition in the Catholic League this season.
Last year, the Flyers had a successful season, but they did not reach their full potential and ultimately fell short of their goal: a league title. The 2016 squad started the season very well with ten decisive wins, garnering a number two ranking in the MSG Varsity Tri-State Baseball Poll. As the season progressed, however, the team fell into a slump, costing its place in the final standings. The Flyers are determined not to repeat the mistakes of last season this spring. Returning players feel that the mild success and, more importantly, the tough losses of last season will only make the current team stronger.
“Our experience from last year is only going to help us,” said returning senior Liam Dvorak. “Players will be hungry to avenge last season’s shortcomings, pushing each other to get better every day, competing to earn a spot on the diamond to form a winning team.”
The team called up two sophomores this year: Aidan Larkin and Logan Koester, the first underclassmen to play at the varsity level since 2016 captain and three-year starting catcher, Straton Podaras. These young guns will play a crucial role in the Flyers success alongside nine talented juniors from the 2016 JV Championship Team. Juniors Nick Biscardi, Scott McKinnon, Anthony Molinari, Nick Jaskolski, Anthony Paretta, Jack Peluso, Anthony Razziano, Mike Toohig, and Mike Dell’Unto look to make the jump from JV to varsity in pursuit of their second consecutive title. The growth of both the sophomores and juniors, an essential to the success of past varsity teams, will be guided by coaching staff, featuring pitching coach and long time Division I baseball coach, Mr. Bob Hirschfield; beloved gym teacher and bullpen coach, Mr. Robert Zehnder; hitting coach and retired Chaminade history teacher, Mr. Jack Lyons; and head coach and former science teacher, Mr. Mike Pienkos.
With the exception of the two sophomores and nine juniors, most of the team will be represented by seniors. Returning seniors include Paul Ariola, Matt Aufiero, Matt Ferraro, Liam Dvorak, Sean Maleady, Matt McQuaid, Jack Prochner, Vin Sarnelli, Alphonse Sicignano, Shane Sullivan, and newly-elected captain Matt Corinaldesi.
“This year I think we are going into the season a very strong team with our solid defense and pitching,” said the Corinaldesi. “The Catholic league has a lot of strong teams, but I think we have a good chance of coming out on top at the end of the season.”
The team will be accompanied by four new seniors who were not a part of last year’s squad. 2014 Freshman Baseball MVP, Joe Salamone, looks to return from a torn ACL that sidelined him during the 2016 season. He will be joined by Steven Hansen, Liam O’Gara, and Michael Ragno, all of whom were members of the 2015 JV Baseball Team that earned a regular season title.
The Flyers will face fierce competition this season; as Coach Pienkos said, “The teams in the Catholic league for us to beat this year will be defending champions Kellenberg and archrival Saint Anthony’s.” Last season, the Flyers dropped several close nail-biting games against these teams, but this year, they are hungry for victory and willing to put in the necessary work to reverse course. Throughout the season, Chaminade will also be playing league rivals St. John the Baptist, Holy Trinity, and St. Dominic’s, as well as non-league opponents Ward Melville, Clarke, Cardozo, Molloy, and St. Francis Prep. Many of these games will be at the home field of the Flyers, Cantiague Park. The 2017 Chaminade Flyers baseball team looks to get back on top, rebounding from last season to rekindle the feelings of their 2015 N.S.C.H.S.A.A. Title.
The team opens the regular season tomorrow, Wednesday, April 5, against the Bayhawks of St. Dominic. Game time: 4:15pm.
Come out and support your Flyers!