By SANJAY ATHREY
So far in this spring season, the JP Stevens baseball team has proven itself to be a comeback team to watch out for in the ever-competitive Red Division. After emerging co-champions of last year’s Red Division, the Hawks once again look to be a dominant force and ferocious contender in the division title race as well as the GMC tournament. Despite key losses of graduating seniors in the infield, namely second baseman Dennis Cooper and shortstop Collin Pastor, the team still has many previous varsity players such as the captains Frank LoGuidice, Zach Marzano, and Luke Jacobi who have proven themselves to be well-prepared to lead the new team.
The season started off on a positive note, especially after the huge success of the Florida trip during spring break. The biennial trip really brought the team together through intense scrimmages and games, and according to Ben Mandell, “[The trip] was a great experience for the team to grow closer because we were able to travel and stay together [very early]”. The team played at the prestigious ESPN Worldwide Sports Complex in Orlando and won two season-opening games, including one against Eastern, a team ranked 10th in New Jersey. In Orlando, pitchers Frank LoGuidice and Alex Zilli combined for an impressive tally of ten strikeouts each in the two games.
In the first few games of the season, the Hawks were led by the offensive powerhouse of the team, Zach Marzano, who tallied three hits and and an impressive five RBI’s, including a homerun in a game against Arthur L. Johnson High School. As the season progressed, the boys encountered a challenging set of matchups against top- ranked opponents such as GMC adversaries South Brunswick and Old Bridge. Difficult-to-swallow losses ensued, but the Hawks were far from discouraged and did not let up.
In fact, the boys were completely focused on making a massive comeback. Captain Zach Marzano reflects this sentiment when he emphasizes, “We know we can play with anybody, we just need to keep our heads cool and not tense up,” and that’s exactly what the Hawks did. The boys quickly grabbed wins against teams by the likes of Sayreville and Perth Amboy. Coach Marzano, recalling the unlucky spell of games remarked, rather humorously, “They like to make it exciting, my blood pressure has been real high.”
An especially gratifying win came from a 4-3 victory against Governor Livingston as part of the annual Autism Awareness Challenge. In this notable competition, which features some of the top 40 high school teams in the state, the Hawks eagerly united behind a worthy cause. With the help of the JP Stevens community, they were able to raise money in order to support autistic children. In fact, Ben Mandell’s little brother, Sam, who is autistic, was selected to throw the ceremonial first pitch. When asked about the special game, Ben replied, “[Baseball] means a lot to me, and I’m glad I had a chance to play for [Sam].”
The impressive win streak is still very much alive for the baseball team, which looks to continue to inspire future athletes through their unwavering persistence and charitable acts. The Hawks are currently third in the division with an impressive 8-7 record after a huge comeback win-streak, with many more important games to be played. With this in mind, one can be rest assured that the boys baseball team will surely step up to the plate and finish off the season on a strong note.
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batting_(baseball)