Not even Mother Nature could stop the Valley Stream North baseball team from its tremendous start.
Despite a brutal spring weather-wise, the Spartans are off to one of their best starts in school history by going 9-1, including a 2-0 win over Floral Park on Friday that completed a three-game sweep in which they outscored the Knights 27-3.
In fact, Valley Stream North would be undefeated if not for an 8-7 loss against new conference foe Bethpage in the first game of a doubleheader on April 5, during which it surrendered a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning. The Spartans scored four times in the seventh and were poised to tie the game with runners on base before the rally fell short.
But the torrid start was no surprise to coach Phil Sanfilippo.
“I thought we would have a very competitive baseball team,” he said. “I felt real good entering the season. You never know what that’s going to equal to in terms of wins and losses, but I did think we could win a bunch of games.”
The Valley Stream North pitching staff has posted three shutouts already and held the opposition to two runs or fewer in seven of the 10 contests. Junior Chris Manzi, a converted reliever, is 3-0 this season with a 2.05 ERA and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against Lawrence on March 27, striking out 15.
“He’s having a very good year so far, which was expected,” Sanfilippo said. “As a sophomore last year, he was our closer [and] he had really good stuff so there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to be a good starter as a junior.”
Four other pitchers have picked up wins this year, including seniors Thomas Graziano (2-0, 3.00 ERA) and Sean Rogers (2-1, 1.82 ERA). Rogers also helped on the offensive end as the first baseman with two home runs against Floral Park sandwiched around a five-RBI performance in the middle game of the series.
“He’s not a guy that throws extremely hard, but he has some really good stuff as a lefty,” Sanfilippo said. “His command has always been an issue, but since the first time he stepped foot on the mound this season, he’s been very, very sharp.”
Leadoff hitter Anthony Franco, who had a four-hit, three-RBI effort against the Knights on April 18, and junior second baseman Joe Gisonda, whose second-inning grand slam against Floral Park a day earlier was his third home run of the season, are pacing the offense.
“He’s really been a dynamic offensive player from the moment we stepped on the baseball field this year,” Sanfilippo said of Gisonda. “We always knew going back to when he was in ninth grade that he could potentially be a big-time hitter.”
The remaining nine games are challenging. The Spartans faced a strong Division team this week before concluding the season against Lynbrook (the defending Conference III champions) and North Shore.