Written by Vinny Messana, email@example.com Thursday, 06 March 2014 11:10
Pitching wins championships, and Garden City baseball Head Coach Rich Smith is confident that his team has enough of it to make a run in 2014. He is not deterred by losing 11 seniors, many of which contributed to the team’s 15-7 season. Smith, in his 42nd year with the program, has seen almost everything on the baseball field, but noted that this team is unique in one way.
“On paper we have three lefties in the starting rotation,” said Smith. “And that’s something I’ve never had here,” he added. The trio of southpaws could prove to be nightmarish on the conference, even after its new alignment.
Smith stated that the addition of Carey and Bellmore enhances the conference so much, that it “might even be the toughest conference around.” Both of the schools dropped down to class-A due to enrollment changes. That certainly provides a challenge to the conference, but it could also bring out the best in the Trojans.
“Our pitching staff is definitely our strength,” said Smith. The aforementioned rotation will consist of all seniors. Leading the pack will be Dave Butler, a third year player on the squad. He was an All-Conference player last year—the only returning one—who compiled an undefeated record of 3-0 with 34 strikeouts, more than one per inning. He will be joined by Brian LoRusso, who went 2-1 and was extremely stingy in terms of yielding runs. He allowed only one run in his 11 innings of work. Obviously, a small sample size of data but it is clear hitters do not enjoy squaring off against him. Finally, Matt Rogers will round out the rotation. Smith stated that he didn’t compile many innings last year in his senior-laden staff, but has what it takes to get outs.
On the offensive side of the ball, Nick Sampong will be the shortstop, and the team will be relying on his leadership. Joining him on the left side of the infield will be Tom Zwicke, who batted .347 last season. At second base will be John Cauchi, who batted a robust .373. That is the type of offense that can lead a team into the postseason and provide an imposing bat in the lineup. The team will also be looking for Rich Matton to step up, who was the biggest contributor on the JV team last season. The outfield will be the strength of the defense, and Smith noted that it will feature some great athletes.
Garden City is a proud program that has seen recent graduates star at their respective colleges, such as Jimmy Duff, a 6’6” junior who could potentially be selected in this year’s MLB amateur draft. Also, they’ve had players actually get drafted such as Rob Finneran, who was drafted in the 37th round out of Bentley University and Matt Daley, who was originally drafted by the Colorado Rockies back in 2004 and pitched relief for the New York Yankees last season after getting signed by the team in 2011.
The Garden City Trojans open up its season on March 24 against New Hyde Park.