Forest Hills leading boro pack in race for ‘B’ title

By Dylan Butler

They may not have a dominating pitcher like Matt Rigotti, but Forest Hills baseball coach Marty Finklestein believes his team this year may have more depth than the Rangers PSAL ‘B’ championship team two years ago.

“We probably have a little more potential this year at the plate,” said Finklestein, in his 10th year at Forest Hills. “But it’s too early to tell.”

Back for the Rangers, who finished 12-6 last year and lost to South Bronx in the second round of the playoffs last year, are pitchers Adam Smilowitz, a lefty who will also see time at first base; junior Daniel Bellish; junior Frank Russo, who will also play center field; and senior Brian Nemchin, who will play third base and left field.

Also back for Forest Hills is senior second baseman Tony Marino, third baseman Nisan Aronov and catcher Brett Cassidy.

After losing in the PSAL ‘B’ title game to Chelsea in 2001, Flushing was inches away from returning to Shea Stadium last year but fell to Beacon, 9-8 in the semifinals at St. John’s University.

It certainly won’t be easy for the Red Devils to repeat the success of the last two years, including an 18-3 season last year as Flushing lost seniors Jose Diaz, Lukas Brito and Caba Edward.

Leading the returnees for Flushing is Danny Dioguardi, a southpaw who also will play first base. Last year Dioguardi was 4-0 with a 2.69 earned run average and batted .478 with five home runs and 29 RBI.

Bryant finished tied with Flushing atop Queens North ‘B’ with identical 14-2 league marks. Howie Coval, who enters his 36th year at the helm, said he needs stronger hitting from returnees Bryan Marte (CF/P), Charlie Santos (P/2B/SS/3B), Ricky Abreu (P/Inf.), Henry Chao (P/2B/OF), Almir Pupovic (3B/1B) and catcher Cesar Vergas.

“If we don’t hit, we’re going to have problems,” Coval said. “That’s the big question. We’re certainly not on the same level as last year right now.”

August Martin has been the dominant team in Queens South ‘B’ for the past two years, racking up an impressive 25-4 league mark during that time. The Falcons will likely soar again this year, led by senior pitcher Brandon Plair, who was 7-0 with a 1.93 ERA while batting .457 with four home runs and 23 RBI.

Franklin K. Lane captured the Queens Central ‘B’ title last year, finishing 16-2. And even though Kelvin Espinal, Melvin Cartagena and Fausto Peralta are gone, there is still plenty of punch in the Knights lineup led by junior Alex Mejia, who batted .500 last year with 20 RBI.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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