Playing in the Nassau Countywide Conference provides relief for struggling programs and enables teams to play competitive baseball while trying to build toward respectability. And, that is exactly what West Hempstead is doing in 2019.
While it hasn’t been all sunshine, rainbows, and lollipops for the Rams, the team is 8-4 in league play, and, more importantly, is moving in the right direction.
The Countywide Conference can be zany at times, but coach Chris DeMarzo is pleased with the overall progress of his program. “We’re dedicated to getting the baseball program on the right track,” DeMarzo said. “I think in two or three years, we’ll have a pretty solid foundation in place. The middle school and junior varsity coaches have done a great job. We’re all on the same page.”
Despite a few ugly games, West Hempstead has emerged as a tough foe, especially on Monday afternoons when DeMarzo hands the ball to sophomore Brendon Williams. The southpaw ace has been virtually unhittable. Williams pitched a complete-game gem when he fanned 15 batters in 1-0 victory over Elmont in the season opener.
In a win at Uniondale on April 16, Williams went the distance in authoring the first no-hitter of his career. He struck out 14 batters and yielded just one walk. Williams also got it done at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a triple.
“I think he has the makeup to be the best pitcher in the county,” DeMarzo said. “That’s how good his stuff is. He’s dominating hitters, and his command has gotten better. Despite only being a sophomore, he’s maturing as a high school pitcher. His fastball has been pinpoint, and his curve is devastating.”
Freshman Dominick Cavallo is an up-and-coming player. Cavallo pitched a completed game in beating Uniondale 8-1. He’s also been productive at the top of the batting order for the Rams. Freshman utilityman Petro Adikimenakis has done a solid job at second base and in the outfield.
Another part of the youth movement making strong contributions is Jake Suffa, a sophomore who has pitched and serves as the everyday catcher. Suffa, who is always around the plate, had a strong outing in a win against Westbury. He’s also done an admirable job behind the plate.
The team’s success isn’t coming solely from its underclassmen. Seniors Joe Chambers, Kevin Corcoran, Nick Duran, and Chris Mele have all contributed. Tyler Olszewski epitomizes the can-do attitude the team has incorporated.
Along with the coaching of Ron Bauer and Ed Cosgrove at the JV and middle school levels, respectively, team manager extraordinaire Sebastian Casanova is working hard to improve the overall state of West Hempstead baseball.
“We’re hoping to finish strong,” DeMarzo said. “We’ve been good on the mound. When your pitchers throw strikes with decent velocity, you’re likely going to be successful in this league. We could be better at the plate. We haven’t hit as well as we are capable of hitting.”
The Rams travel to Great Neck North on Thursday for a 4:30 p.m. start.