By Marc Raimondi
The future of Queens baseball was on display Monday night in Forest Hills. And honestly, it looks pretty bright.
Hundreds of spectators, most of them parents and supporters, descended upon Forest Hills Little League’s Fleet Street baseball complex to watch the 11- and 12-year-olds from Ridgewood-Glendale-Middle Village-Maspeth Little League take on the 11- and 12-year-olds from Forest Hills in the semifinals of the Section 3 tournament.
That means essentially that two of the best four Little League teams in New York City and Westchester are from Queens. RGMVM left the field with a 9-3 victory and a berth into the Section 3 finals, but the real winners were the baseball enthusiasts on hand taking in the action.
“It was local,” said Forest Hills coach Phil Fragale, who has been coaching with the organization more than 30 years. “Middle Village is close by. That gave a little flavor to it.”
And the youngsters didn’t disappoint. There was great hitting, headlined by RGMVM left fielder Brandon Acosta’s 3-for-4 day with a home run and three RBIs. Austin Nieves and Paul Hyland both also homered for RGMVM, but the drive of the night definitely went to Forest Hills’ Greg Boyle in a losing effort. In the third inning, he took an Eric Tully pitch and crushed it long and far over the center field fence.
“He’s a good player, a good hitter,” RGMVM coach Steve Adams said of Boyle. “He proved that with a ball that might still be going. That was a ridiculous shot.”
Boyle, also the team’s ace pitcher and tremendous defensive catcher, and shortstop Daniel Scarpulla were the stars for Forest Hills from the Bombers’ District 26 tournament championship into Section 3. Both are sure to be excellent high-school players in a few years.
RGMVM has a handful of outstanding players, as well. Adams calls Chris Piteo, the team’s shortstop and No. 1 pitcher, the best baseball talent he’s ever coached — and Adams has coached in high school at Mount St. Michael in the Bronx and Holy Trinity on Long Island. But there’s more to the Aces than just Piteo. Gerard Fraracci, who pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief against Forest Hills, is a tall, dominant right-hander and and the team’s No. 3 hitter in the order. Nothing can be taken away from Nieves or Acosta either, two more of RGMVM’s middle-of-the-order hitters.
“I had a couple of high-school coaches ask me where they’re going,” Adams said. “I told them I didn’t know — I’m not their parents. There is talent on the way.”
In the PSAL this year, no team from Queens made it out of the second round of the playoffs. Francis Lewis, Cardozo and Bayside all were ousted early. St. Francis Prep was the only squad from Queens to make the eight-team, double-elimination portion of the CHSAA playoffs, which is basically the league’s quarterfinals.
But if Monday night in Forest Hills was any indication, Queens high-school teams could be right up there with the city’s best before too long.
“When you get two teams playing together,” Fraracci said, “it’s good for Queens.”
Farewell to a friend. After just over 11 years working in some capacity for the TimesLedger Newspapers, Dylan Butler left the paper last week.
There isn’t any doubt that he was the best sports editor in the history of the TimesLedger, winning numerous awards and covering the Queens sports world better than anyone else.
Personally, he will be sorely missed as a great boss, a mentor and, more than anything else, a close friend.
I wish him well in his new endeavors.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.