By Rob Potter
LOCH SHELDRAKE March 14, 2008 Weather permitting, the Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) baseball team will begin its 2008 season today.
The Generals are slated to play Globe Institute of Technology at 10 a.m. at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George, which is the home park of the Staten Island Yankees, a Class A affiliate of the New York Yankees.
Next week, for the second consecutive spring, the Generals will take a trip to the Cal Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C. While in the Palmetto State, the Generals will play six games against community college teams from around the nation.
SCCC will open National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XV play on Tuesday, March 25 with a game at Westchester Community College.
The Generals are slated to play their first home game on Saturday, March 29. SCCC will host Westchester CC in a noon doubleheader that day on the Loch Sheldrake campus.
Since the second semester began in January, Coach Mike Marra and Volunteer Assistant Coach Fernando Nunez, who played for the Generals the past two seasons, have been guiding the team through practices in Paul Gerry Fieldhouse.
“We have a young group this season,” Marra said as the players ran sprints and warmed up for Wednesday afternoon’s practice in the fieldhouse. “There are only five sophomores on this year’s team.”
While most of the Generals are new this season, Marra is very optimistic about the team.
“This is a great group of guys,” he said. “They get along well with each other.”
In 2006, which was Marra’s first season at SCCC, the team recorded nine wins overall and five wins in Region XV. Last year, the Generals won 16 games, including nine in Region XV competition. The team also qualified for the Region XV “final four” championship tournament.
“The first year and second year we were in the competing stage,” Marra said. “Now in the third year, we want to be able to challenge for a regional title.
“We’ve been to the regional final four once and one of our goals is to get back there this season,” he added.
Marra is confident his players will give a maximum effort and execute the fundamentals of the game.
He and the players are eager for the season to begin.
Mike Prunka, a 2006 Eldred Central School graduate, is one of the five sophomores on the Generals’ roster. He is looking forward to another spring trip to Myrtle Beach.
“I can’t wait to get out of the cold [weather] and play some games,” Prunka said.
Prunka is one of three Sullivan County residents playing for the Generals. The other two county natives are William Elberth and Fred Moore III, both of whom graduated from Tri-Valley High School last June.
Elberth, who is a New York Yankees fan, is excited about today’s scheduled game versus Globe Institute of Technology down on Staten Island.
“I can’t wait to get out on the field and play,” Elberth said. “And to be able to play at the park where the Staten Island Yankees play, you can’t get better than that.”
Elberth is also excited to be teammates with Moore again.
“We have been best friends since kindergarten,” Elberth said.
Moore is also ready to get out on the diamond.
“I’m just looking forward to the season,” he said. “We have a good group of guys on the team. Hopefully, we can win a championship.”
The following is the complete Generals’ roster and comments from Coach Marra about each player.
• Anthony Rodriquez, freshman, Alfred Smith High School, Bronx
“Fastest player on the squad… needs to shore up his defense to get innings.”
• Mike Prunka, sophomore, Eldred HS, Glen Spey
“Only pitcher on the staff with college experience… I look for his leadership on and off the mound to carry over to the freshman arms.”
• Sandy DeLaCruz, freshman, High School for Environmental Studies, New York City
“Great hands at second base… will be a real threat if he makes consistent contact at the plate.”
• Gabriel Peralta, freshman, South Brooklyn HS, Brooklyn
“Starts the season as the backup catcher… has a great work ethic, a strong arm and a solid bat.”
• William Elberth, freshman, Tri-Valley HS, Neversink
“Will start the season in middle relief… can work his way into the starting rotation with quality innings out of the bullpen… Needs to stay out of the middle of the plate to be successful.”
• Michael Donohue, freshman, Valley Central HS, Walden
“Our starting left fielder… handles the bat well from the No. 2 spot in the order.”
• Alvin Mata, freshman, George Washington HS, Tuckahoe
“One of the four starters in the rotation… He has great energy and enthusiasm and knows the game.
• Garrett Russell, freshman, Lake George HS, Lake George
“Very athletic… will see time behind the plate, at first base and in the outfield… hits from the left side.”
• Melvin Simmons, freshman, Alfred Smith HS, Bronx
“Leadoff hitter and our starting shortstop… He has all the tools to be an All-Region Player.
• Johnny Harkins, freshman, Rondout Valley HS, Kerhonkson
“Will see time in left field… has been sidelined by a wrist injury for most of the preseason.”
• Ceasar DeLaCruz, freshman, South Bronx HS, Bronx
“Solid defender… will see time at first base and outfield.
• Ray Valdez, freshman, JFK HS, Bronx
“Starting right fielder… He has a very athletic body... hits with power and has a strong arm.
• John DeGroodt, freshman, Valley Central HS, Walden
“Best all-around player on the team… Hits with power and is an excellent defender at first base… was clocked in the fall between 88-92 mph on his fastball… will start the season as the closer and starting first baseman.
• Mark Roarty, sophomore, Hudson Catholic HS, Secaucus, N.J.
“Starting third baseman... has a very strong arm… hits with power.”
• Eddie Pagan, Hicksville HS, Bronx
“Will see time at first base and battle for a starting role in the pitching rotation… swings the bat well.
• Dan Mercedes, freshman, Taft HS, Bronx
“Will see time in center field… He is a hard worker who has excellent speed.”
• Albert Bevacqua, sophomore, New Dorp HS, Staten Island
“He was a 2007 NJCAA All-Region XV second baseman… will see time at shortstop, second base and DH… one of the toughest outs in the lineup.
• Fred Moore III, freshman, Tri-Valley HS, Neversink
“Won the starting catching job in the fall… He has great tools as a catcher and has the potential to be an All-Region player.
• Ali Ferreiras, sophomore, Alfred Smith HS, Bronx
“He is our starting center fielder… He has good speed... will be asked to take charge in the outfield.”
• Angel Betances, freshman, Lehman HS, Bronx
“Will compete for a spot in the starting rotation… good heavy fastball… needs to work on his off speed pitches to be effective.
• Jess Kelly, freshman, Elmira Free Academy, Elmira
“Will compete for a spot in the starting rotation… He has good command of pitches… needs to work on arm path to be more consistent with velocity… will also see time at third base.”
• Anthony DeLeon, freshman, Saunders HS, Yonkers
“Will start the season in middle relief… He needs to keep the ball down to be effective… is always smiling
• Wellington Vargas, freshman, John Adams HS, Brooklyn
“He will be one of our starting pitchers… a ground ball machine… he has a great attitude.