By Mike Zummo
Last season was a big one for the Newburgh Free Academy baseball team.
The Goldbacks’ ended a 16-year drought when they won the Section 9 Class AA championship with an 11-3 win over Monroe-Woodbury.
That was where the season ended as there was nothing beyond sectional play due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, the Goldbacks have the unenviable task of defending their title without three of the top players from last year’s team. Gone are the Goldbacks’ top hitter and shortstop Jaden Caballero, pitcher Scott Scheppy and another starting pitcher and infielder Jack Clifford.
But with them gone, the Goldbacks will return some experience, starting with shortstop/third baseman Dylan Iorlano, and catcher Roberto Reade. Jake Lanzer is expected to lead the pitching staff, while seeing time at first base.
Lanzer was the winning pitcher in the Goldbacks’ 11-3 section-title clinching victory.
Also back are outfielder/catcher Anthony Manzi, second baseman Tyler Martin, center fielder Joe Ponesse, pitcher Liam Connolly and pitcher Tyler Slaughter.
They will mix with a group of five new-to-varsity players, including John Ahearn, pitcher/outfielder, shortstop/pitcher Joe Alecia, third baseman/pitcher Tyler Cross and infielder/pitcher Tyler Voltaire.
“We have some pretty big shoes to fill with our departures,” Newburgh coach Scott Seabury said. “But we have a good core of returning players that are ready to step up and lead this team.”
Seabury got an early look at what his team had to offer in Friday’s scrimmage at home against the Wallkill Panthers. It was, however, a short preseason.
The team got together for the first time for official preseason tryouts and practice on March 14. They were scheduled to play their first game of the season on Tuesday, a non-league home game against the Washingtonville Wizards.
Tuesday, March 29 – vs. Washingtonville, 4 p.m.
Wednesday, March 30 – vs. Port Jervis, 4 p.m.
Monday, April 4 – at Middletown, 4 p.m.
Wednesday, April 6 – vs. Pine Bush, 4 p.m.
Friday, April 8 – at Beacon, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, April 19 – vs. Valley Central, 4 p.m.
Thursday, April 21 – vs. Monroe-Woodbury, 4 p.m.
Tuesday, April 26 – at Warwick, 4 p.m.
Thursday, April 28 – vs. Kingston, 4:15 p.m.
Monday, May 2 – vs. Middletown, 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 4 – at Pine Bush, 4 p.m.
Friday, May 6 – vs. Highland, 4:15 p.m.
Tuesday, May 10 – vs. Valley Central, 4 p.m.
Thursday, May 12 – at Monroe-Woodbury, 4 p.m.
Monday, May 16 – vs. Warwick, 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 18 – at Kingston, 4 p.m.