By Rob Potter
LOCH SHELDRAKE March 9, 2007 Believe it or not, it’s baseball season.
While every area baseball field is covered under a thick, white blanket of snow, the Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) baseball team is scheduled to begin its 2007 season tomorrow afternoon.
Weather permitting, the Generals will travel to Brentwood, Long Island to play Suffolk West Community College in a doubleheader.
Even if the twinbill is canceled by inclement weather or poor field conditions, SCCC will not have to wait long to play a game outdoors on a grass field.
Head Coach Mike Marra, Assistant Coach Adam Lake and the players will be spending next week at the Cal Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
The junior college tournament will give SCCC, which is a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II team, the opportunity to play NJCAA Division I squad Marshalltown (Iowa) Community College; Div. II teams Mercer (NJ) CC and St. Louis CC; and Div. III squads Northern Essex (Mass.) CC and Owens (Ohio) CC.
After practicing for the past six weeks in Paul Gerry Fieldhouse, the Generals are ready to get outside.
“The fieldhouse is nice and we are able to do so many things in here, but to get outside on actual fields will be great,” Marra said. “We need that outside experience.”
The players wholeheartedly agree with their coach.
“I’m pretty excited about the trip because I have never really been outside New York State,” said Chris Gates, a freshman pitcher/outfielder from Loch Sheldrake who is a 2006 Fallsburg Central School graduate. “It’s an opportunity to see how we compare to teams around the nation.”
Mike Prunka, a freshman pitcher from Glen Spey, is also looking forward to the trip to Myrtle Beach.
“Things have been going well in practice, but it’s so cold here and it will be nice to play outside,” said Prunka, a 2006 Eldred Central School graduate. “We’re excited about it. If we can compete with the teams down there, then we should be able to play well against the teams in our region.”
Everyone in the program is expecting to have a great overall season. Last spring, SCCC fielded its first baseball team in two decades and the team posted a 9-20-1 overall record and went 7-13 record against fellow NJCAA Region XV squads.
“We should be a much better team this year,” Marra said. “We have a very deep team of 28 players. We should be one of the top three teams in the region.”
Marra said the Generals have better fielding, hitting, pitching and team speed this spring as compared to 2006. And they also have seven sophomores who have a great deal of experience to share with the 21 freshmen.
“Our sophomores can provide great leadership this season,” Marra commented. “They can guide the freshmen and be role models on and, more importantly, off the field.”
The Generals also seem to have great team chemistry, which should help the squad have a successful season.
“This is a great group of guys,” Gates commented.
“Everybody’s great and we all get along well,” Prunka added. “We can joke around and have a laugh together, but when it’s time to get serious on the field we can do that, too.”
The complete Generals’ roster, along with comments from Marra, is as follows:
• Albert Bevacqua, freshman, Staten Island “A steady infielder… will anchor the middle of defense... was a PSAL All- Star his senior year at New Dorp HS in Staten Island where he hit .409 and had an on-base percentage of .458.”
• Joe Bonnaci, freshman, Mongaup Valley “Has ability to be a good hitter… needs more reps… will see time at first base and DH.”
• Mike Cook, freshman, Liberty “Comes into the spring as our situational lefty pitcher… will be called upon to get a key left-handed hitter out in a tough spot… needs to get stronger to throw more innings.
• Chris Daniels, freshman, Wappingers Falls “Comes into the spring as one of the most talented players on the roster… has the ability to be an All-Region player if he keeps his ego in his back pocket… has all five tools.
• Jason Falasca, sophomore, Woodbourne “The team's fastest player… solid defender in the outfield… needs to be able to put more balls in play to see more at-bats.
• Orlando Fargas, freshman, Woodside “Middle relief lefty who can also play some first base… swings the bat well from the left side… Struck out 49 hitters in 31 innings and hit . 633 as a senior at Robert Wagner HS in Queens.
• Ali Ferreiras, freshman, Bronx “Left-handed relief pitcher who can also play the outfield and come off the bench to pinch-hit… he hit .500 (22-for-44 ) his senior year at Alfred E Smith HS in the Bronx.
• Lucas Garcia, sophomore, Bronx “Returning pitcher from the ’06 team… excellent control… can be used as a starter or closer.”
• Chris Gates, freshman, Loch Sheldrake “One of the best all-around athletes on the team… will see action as an outfielder and pitcher… needs to be more consistent at the plate to stay in the everyday lineup.”
• Alexander Gil, sophomore, Bronx “Team’s workhorse… will compete for time at first base and the outfield.”
• Christopher Gonzalez, freshman, Bronx “Sixth team All-New York State as a senior at St. Raymond’s HS in the Bronx… has all five tools… an All-Region XV candidate for 2007.”
• Joey Long, freshman, Middle Village “Middle relief left-handed pitcher… went 4-2 with a 4.92 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched his senior year at Queens Vocational Technical HS in Queens.”
• Phil Mason, sophomore, Stone Ridge “Returning outfielder… needs to have a better year at the plate to stay in the lineup… solid defender.”
• Dan Mills, sophomore, Cornwall “Returning pitcher… will be our closer this spring… needs to be more consistent in his work habits… has a heavy fastball and good knuckleball.”
• Dan Murray, freshman, Saugerties “Will compete for time at third base, pitcher and catcher… good athlete who can play many positions… has a blue-collar work ethic.”
• Fernando Nunez, sophomore, Woodside “Middle relief… spot starter in the pitching rotation… won most improved player award in 2006.”
• Nick Orozco, freshman, New York City “Will be one of the starting four pitchers in the rotation… has great movement on his off-speed pitches… needs to locate his fastball to be successful.”
• Eddie Pagan, freshman, Hicksville “Developing into a solid college pitcher… needs to be more consistent to get more innings… A hard worker with a great attitude.”
• Casey Pazzalia, freshman, Liberty “Will compete for time at first base… needs to be more consistent at the plate.”
• Jaysson Pena, freshman, Bronx “Will play both second base and shortstop… good speed on the bases… needs to put more balls in play to be effective offensively.”
• Anthony Plomitallo, freshman, Oyster Bay “Will compete for a starting spot in the rotation as well as competing for time at second base… competes hard everyday at practice.”
• Mike Prunka, freshman, Glen Spey “Will compete for time in the starting rotation… can be used in relief as well… needs to keep his pitchers out of the middle of the plate to be successful… excellent curveball… bulldog work ethic.”
• Mark Roarty, freshman, Secaucus, NJ “Will start in left field… All-Hudson County as a senior at Hudson Catholic HS… hit over .600 as a senior… has pop in his bat.”
• Robert Saltares, freshman, New York City “Competing for the catcher spot… a solid defender who handles pitchers well.”
• Lenin Sepulveda, freshman, Middletown “Will start at second base… has good hands… can be a dangerous number nine hitter in our lineup.”
• Imgembert Tavarez, freshman, Bronx “Competing for the starting catcher spot… is a solid defender… has some pop in his bat… hit .391 and stole 16 bases as a senior at South Bronx HS last year.”
• Jonathan Valerio, sophomore, Bronx “Led the team in home runs last season… has the ability to be an All-Region player if he keeps his ego in his back pocket… will compete for time at third base, first base and DH.”
• Corey VanKeuren, freshman, Liberty “Competing for time in the pitching rotation… has ability to become a good college pitcher… needs to match the effort with his ability.”