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Queens teams hoping to keep pace with Clips

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Five Queens varsity baseball teams will vie for the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan championship this season, but, as has been the case in recent years, a Brooklyn school seems to be the odds-on favorite to take home the title in 2001.

The consensus among Queens coaches is that the Xaverian Clippers, last year’s CHSAA city championship runner-ups, will once again be the top team in Brooklyn/Queens. But several Queens teams will certainly make the race interesting.

Archbishop Molloy leads the field in Queens, led by 43-year head coach Jack Curran, who has taken the Stanners to 25 city finals since he took over the team, winning 16. Curran heads into this season with a senior-laden team, but the veteran coach is counting on some young pitching to put his team over the hump.

“I think we’ll be good if our junior pitchers come through,” Curran said. “They might start some games. They’re both pretty good. They pitched well in the fall.”

Matt Bunyan and Matt Feeley are the junior hurlers and will be joined by seniors Brian Bunyan Mike Mole and Steve DiLorenzo, all of whom could find their way into the starting rotation.

In the field, Freddy Estes, last year’s back-up, will start behind the plate, with John Sikiric at first, Mike Vollaro at second, John Maser at short and Mike Vigorito at third. The outfield will be patrolled by Anthony Di Troia in left, Hasani Whitfield in center and, when he’s not pitching, Phil Kuhner in right.

Maser is the only question mark so far, nursing a pulled muscle in his back. Michael Baxter, who will be the team’s designated hitter for most of the year, will start in Maser’s stead.

“We are expecting our team to play well in the field. If our pitchers throw strikes we’ll be OK,” Curran said.

Walter Tuthill takes over the reins of the Christ the King program with the departure of Nick Melito for the head coaching job at McClancy. Tuthill, who coached the school’s junior varsity team for the past 12 years and has coached for the Ridgewood-Glendale-Middle Village-Maspeth Little League and the Catalpa YMCA, inherits a club that reached the city semis last year, losing to eventual champs Mount St. Michael.

The Royals return with one of their best hitters from a year ago, Ken Gleason. Gleason, who is recovering from shoulder surgery in October, also makes up the team’s one-two punch on the mound with left-hander Leon Kruset.

Defensively for Christ the King, Robert Torres will play first and bat in the middle of the order, with Omni Sanchez in right field, Keith Crevatas behind the plate, Joe Roman in center and Danny Echevarria at short, rounding out the returning players.

Leftfielder Abel Sanchez and second baseman Rafael Castillo are up from the junior varsity with Tuthill and are also expected to make an impact.

“Our defense is very good, I believe,” Tuthill said. “I worry about our pitching a little bit. If we put the pieces in the right place we’ll be OK.”

St. Francis Prep, which went 19-8 last year, losing in the quarterfinals to Iona Prep, graduated six seniors, but brings back pitching ace Brian Morgan and some of the most dangerous hitters in the league in third baseman Nicky Theoharis and first baseman Sylvester Gutierrez.

Also back are second baseman Anthony Genna, leftfielder Danny Iocco and rightfielder Jason Leberfeld. Sophomore Steve Eng will start at shortstop, while Richie McGraw will play behind the plate. Danny Pujdak and EJ Kapella will also see time on the hill.

“We should be pretty good if the pitching stays consistent and we play good defense,” said coach Brother Robert Kent. “I think our bats will come around.”

McClancy added a new coach in Melito, the same coach who helped eliminate the Crusaders from the playoffs last year. But Melito is hopeful his new team, which struggled last season, can improve this year.

Leading the charge will be pitcher Marty Noer, catcher Rich Colavita, first baseman Joe DeAndrea and centerfielder Joe Toledo. Sophomores David Capello and John Russnak will make up the team’s double-play combo at short and second, respectively.

“We’re young and inexperien­ced,” said Melito, who graduated from McClancy in 1976. “We should get better as the season goes on. I think they’re all going to be tough. I know Christ the King is going to be very good.”

Melito’s Crusaders will open the season against the Royals April 9.

Holy Cross, whose coach Kurt Schaffner has been sidelined by illness, and Brooklyn’s St. Edmund round out the division.

In the CHSAA ‘B’ division, St. John’s Prep will again try to make a run at the Diocesan championship. The Red Storm came up short in the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan ‘B’ championship game, losing to Bishop Ford, but the team lost five seniors, leaving coach Time Keiley with some holes to fill.

“This year we’ve very young,” Keiley said. “We’ll probably be starting three of four sophomores. If the young kids come through we’ll be all right.”

Pitcher/second baseman Mike Trentacosta, pitcher Neil Barrett and outfielders Francois Snyder and James Connolly are the only seniors starting for the team. Sophomores Greg Jones and Colm Dillon will rotate off the mound and in the field. Phil DeJesus will be the team’s catcher and Carl Garcia will patrol the hot corner.

Cathedral Prep will also vie for the ‘B’ title. The Crusaders went 17-7 last year, losing to Bishop Ford in the B/Q playoffs and this season’s club may also be a tough out come playoffs time.

Despite the loss of sophomore hurler Jim Calamia to a broken ankle, coach Bill Johnson is still confident in his club.

“The potential to win the division is there,” the coach said. “If they all play up to their potential we have a great chance. We should be able to hold our own.”

Seniors will run the show for Cathedral, with Angel Espinal at first, Chris Lanza at short, John O’Brien at third, power hitter Brian McGrath behind the plate and lead-off hitter Danny Barvells in center field. Freshman Vinny Johnson will play second base, junior Matt Moloney will patrol left field and sophomore Danny Fischer will play in right.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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