Spring training, and baseball, are back

By Mike Zummo
Posted 3/30/22

Most of the snow has been melted for most of the month, and with some warmer weather, area baseball teams have been out on the field preparing for a more normal season this year.

Unlike last …

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Spring training, and baseball, are back


Most of the snow has been melted for most of the month, and with some warmer weather, area baseball teams have been out on the field preparing for a more normal season this year.

Unlike last season, which was crammed into about six weeks, area teams had a more normal preseason this year, and will see the return of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships.

Area teams took the field for the first time this week.

Pine Bush
The Bushmen will return a strong combination of seniors and juniors this year as they look to improve on last year’s 14-8 record, which saw them beat the Valley Central Vikings in the quarterfinals before falling to the Monroe-Woodbury Crusaders in the Section 9 Class AA semifinals.

The Bushmen will have to find ways to replace the bat of Gunnar Meland in the middle of their lineup, Matt Boffalo said the Bushmen’s top returning position player is Jack Gandolfini. Gandolfini hit .280 last year with eight RBIs.

Alex Bucolo is the Bushmen’s top returning pitcher after posting a 1.68 ERA over his seven appearances. He struck out 22 batters in 16.2 innings pitched.

The Bushmen were scheduled to open their season on Tuesday with a home game against the Monticello Panthers. They will open their Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association schedule on the road against Newburgh.

Valley Central
The Valley Central Vikings are entering their second straight number with low numbers under coach Robert Leonard.

Despite the lack of numbers, the Vikings posted a 9-7 record before suffering a Section 9 Class AA quarterfinal loss to the Pine Bush Bushmen.

The Vikings have lost three key players from last year: shortstop Andrew Bonilla, catcher Matt McDonald and outfielder Mike DiTullio.

With the low numbers, the Vikings’ first job will be to stay both healthy and eligible.

Sebastian Rockwood will return in center field and serve as the Vikings’ leadoff hitter. Leonard described him as a good role model and a mentally tough kid. Dariel Ducasse will move from second base to shortstop. Ducasse was injured during the sectional tournament last year, but if he’s healthy, the Vikings will have a better chance for success.

Cameron Stevens and Danny Bello will return on the mound. John Scotto had the Vikings’ highest batting average.

Zach Rometo and Keldrin Rodriguez are two newcomers that Leonard hopes will make a big impact for the Vikings this year.

Other newcomers include Evan Johnson, Billy Treco, Colin Quinn and Jason Murphy.

After staying on the field, the Vikings look to get into the sectional tournament and hope to improve upon last year’s finish.

“I am looking forward to the season,” Leonard said. “We are just ready to get out there and see if we can compete. The biggest thing will be overcoming our low numbers and staying healthy.”

The Wallkill Panthers enter the season, looking to build on last year’s 8-11 record and make a return trip to the Section 9 Class A tournament.

The Panthers reached the semifinals last year, before suffering a season-ending loss to the unbeaten Cornwall Dragons.

The Panthers will return an experienced pitching staff with junior Tyler Mack looking to lead the pitching staff. Seniors Jacob Quiles and Jack Rauschenbach, and junior Chase Hermance, and sophomore Kyle DeGroat also are up for rotation spots. The pitching staff will be rounded out by senior Bryce DeGroat and juniors Brandon Vesely.

They will throw to catchers Chris Wager and Spencer freer.
Outfield speed will come from Hermance in centerfield and James Lee at a corner spot. Kyle and Bryce DeGroat will cover the middle infield, while Quiles will man third base when he’s not pitching. Vesely will spend time at first base.

The Panthers will look to improve on last season’s .283 batting average from last year. Bryce and Kyle DeGroat will be at the top of the lineup with Hermance and Rauschenbach in the middle.
The Panthers will start the regulars season with a home game on April 1 against Port Jervis before heading to Myrtle Beach for Spring Training.


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