Ron Gorecki started talking about his team and couldn’t stop, raving about one impact player after another, all his pitchers, the deep lineup, even a few reserves.
The fourth-year Cardozo coach has known nothing but success in his three previous seasons — consecutive Queens A East division titles and a second-round finish in last year’s city playoffs — and he expects that to continue this spring.
“If we play our game, there isn’t anybody in the city we can’t beat,” he said.
The Judges return virtually their entire team from last spring, which went undefeated in league before falling to Taft by a run in the second round. The group has been fortified by three difference-making transfers in hard-throwing right-hander Connor Doyle (Townsend Harris), power-hitting second baseman Chris Campbell (Monsignor McClancy) and outfielder Daniel Beizer (St. Francis Prep).
“It seems like people are catching onto the program we’re building at Cardozo,” Gorecki said.
The top of the rotation is set with sensational junior left-hander Adrian Castano, Doyle and senior Calvin Luk. As a sophomore at Townsend Harris, Doyle went 4-2 and struck out an astounding 89 in 41 innings pitched in addition to hitting .558 and driving in 21 runs.
Castano and Doyle can both be overpowering with fastballs reaching into the high 80s while Luk “is like a Greg Maddux,” Gorecki said, who went 4-1 on the mound a year ago.
Consistent offensively a year ago, Gorecki can see his offense taking a step forward. First baseman Nelson Santiago, shortstop Nicanor Luna, catcher Sean Karol, Castano and third baseman Diego Gonzalez are all a year older, stronger and more experienced and Campbell adds a potent bat to an already fierce middle of the order.
“This kid is like a little Ricky Henderson,” Goreki said. “He’s 5-7, 180, but when he hits the ball, he just destroys the ball.”
Despite all the additions, Castano remains the face of the program. He had a breakout sophomore season, going 6-0 on the mound with 69 strikeouts in 49 innings pitched and .373 with 25 runs scored and 15 RBIs. Gorecki lamented losing that contest to Taft because he would’ve loved to see what Castano could’ve done against Bronx dynamo Lehman in the quarterfinals.
“Adrian is probably one of the top 10 players in the city,” Gorecki said. “I think at this stage of the game he’s a mini five-tool player.”
Gorecki is excited about this group, as much for all the talent at his disposal as the caliber of kid. Before talking about his kids’ skill set, he raved about this group’s chemistry and how close the team seems to have gotten already.
“There is a synergy, everybody on the team makes everybody else better,” he said. “We have an enthusiasm that just started spreading.”
The talent certainly seems to be there for a long playoff run. Gorecki said he sees the potential to get to “the last game.” Cardozo has fared well against a difficult preseason schedule and nearly topped defending champion George Washington after falling into an early hole. The coach said he scheduled the game as an early test, to see how kids would respond against a powerhouse foe it could see sometime in late May or early June.
“I wanted to play George Washington the first week of the season because I wanted to show the kids the intimidation factor up there. It’s a different atmosphere our kids aren’t accustomed to,” Gorecki said. “That’s over. We are no longer intimidated.”
In fact, Cardozo may be the team intimidating others this spring.
©2012 Community News Group
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