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Calhoun aiming for conference title

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After reaching the championship game of last year’s Nassau County baseball summer league, Calhoun carried over its momentum into the 2021 season and is running on all cylinders.

The Colts won their first 10 games against Conference II rivals and are on the verge of clinching the regular-season title and the No. 1 playoff seed. This spring, the top six teams in each conference will qualify for the playoffs and play its own tournament creating multiple county champions. Nassau’s conference titlists will face Suffolk’s conference champs for Long Island supremacy on June 20.

“We knew after last summer we’d have a strong nucleus,” Calhoun coach Art Canestro said. “On top of that we’ve had some younger guys step up. We just need to keep working and try to keep the train moving. We’ve got some good tests coming up.”

Offense has been the Colts’ biggest weapon along with a pitching staff by committee, Canestro said. “This is one of the best-hitting teams we’ve had in a while,” he said. “We’re solid 1 through 9. Hitting is contagious and when you see the guy in front of you get a hit, you want to follow with a hit. As far as pitching, we don’t have any superstars but a lot of quality.”

The first four hitters in Calhoun’s lineup also comprise its defense up the middle. Senior center fielder Ryan Todd leads off, followed by senior shortstop Patrick Sanchez, senior second baseman Peter Rogers and senior catcher Tim Mack.

Todd is hitting over .400 and brings a cannon arm and good wheels to the middle of the outfield, Canestro said. The coach believes Sanchez, who recently helped lead the volleyball team to its first-ever county title, is the best all-around player in the conference. He’s batting .600. “Pat is a very tough out, and even his outs are hit hard,” Canestro said. Rogers is also smoking the ball, hitting over .400 and leading the team in extra-base hits and 14 RBIs. Mack, who plays third base once a week when sophomore Ryan Pucella works behind the plate, is swinging a dangerous stick as well.

Junior Alec Edwards and Jordan Babbo are both regulars in the lineup hitting .350. One plays first base while the other is used as a designated hitter. Junior Brooks Montalbano, sophomore Matt Kalfas and freshman Joey Goodman are outfielders also contributing to the offensive fireworks.

Montalbano and Kalfas also pitch. Senior volleyball star Owen Rose and junior Brian Chin have provided solid mound work, and Canestro has a half-dozen others he can call upon. The Colts yielded only 16 runs in 10 games. “We don’t need anyone to go seven innings,” he said. “We’ve used two or three pitchers every game.”