After getting off to an 0-2 start, the Valley Stream North baseball team has found its groove. The Spartans stood at 5-3 on Monday (4-3 in conference play) following a 14-9 road win over rival Valley Stream South in a crossover game.
“A lot of guys are hitting well,” said North coach Phil Sanfilippo. “We’re scoring a ton of runs.”
The Spartans are averaging 11 runs per game. They are also running wild on the basepaths and had 10 steals in the victory at South. “We’re a very fast team,” Sanfilippo said. “There’s not a guy who can’t steal a base. It’s definitely a big part of our game.”
Supplying the offense are shortstop Anthony Martelli and first baseman Pio Bonfitto. The seniors both had two-run homeruns on Monday. Second baseman James Capoziello and third basemen Jeff Lantigua, both seniors, round out a solid-hitting infield.
Leading the pitching is senior Glen Carey. Sanfilippo said he is not a hard thrower, but has good command and can get any one of his four pitches over for a strike. Senior Kevin White pitched six innings at South giving up four runs but getting seven strikeouts on his way to a win.
Relief pitching almost did the team in as two pitchers combined to give up five runs in South’s attempted comeback in the bottom of the seventh. Sanfilippo said pitching will be key as the team moves on to series against Conference A-VI rivals Clarke, Mineola and Seaford beginning next week.
South, 2-4 overall, has had to overcome several injuries. Junior Jesse Blouin, who was supposed to be the third starting pitcher, isn’t available after getting hurt during football season. The expected starting catcher, junior Manny Pizarro, is out and second basemen/outfielder Andrew Hess, a senior, has missed significant time with a hamstring injury. Hess is expected back for Saturday’s game against Unatego High School in Cooperstown.
Coach Ken Ward said the Falcons have two frontline starting pitchers in junior Andy Labeck, who has both of the team’s wins, and sophomore Tyler Gill. With a trio of sophomores, Gill, Marino Sorbara and James Cannon, Ward said the future looks bright.
Over the next three weeks, South will have consecutive three-game series against Manhasset, Lawrence and Lynbrook. Ward said that stretch will almost be like a season in itself as those four teams will by vying for one of two playoff spots in A-IV. “That nine-game season will settle it,” he said.
The Spartans have playoff aspirations as well, as Sanfilippo and his assistant, James Casella, believe the team will be at or near the top of A-VI. “We expect to be in the playoffs,” Sanfilippo said, “and we hope to make some noise when we get there.”