Win Final Game To Secure Playoff Spot
The Martin Luther School (MLS) baseball team made strides in 2012 under new head coach John Della Marco and returning assistant head coach Rob Lowig, reaching the playoffs and posting a winning record in their Division 2 ACIS-PSAA conference.
With senior pitcher Kevin Schick posting a winning record of 7-3 and three juniors batting over .300 (Patrick Kelly, Daniel Valentin and Eduardo Mamut), the Cougars found themselves making a run at the playoffs.
It came down to the wire in the last game of the season: a win would elevate the Cougars to the playoffs and a loss would end their season. The coaching staff gave the ball to Schick and he did not disappoint, pitching five strong innings and striking out seven batters as the Cougars defeated UNIS 6-4 in the final game of the regular season to advance to the playoffs with an 10-7 record overall.
In the Semi-Finals, the Cougars played #2 seed Bay Ridge Prep and upset BRP 6-4. Once again Schick got the ball and pitched the game of the year-a complete game victory with two earned runs and seven strike outs. MLS took an early 4-0 lead going to the fifth inning as leadoff batter Kelly scored four times with three stolen bases and BRP walked in two and Valentin had an RBI single in the first inning.
Bay Ridge Prep scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth and two runs in the sixth to tie the game and the momentum shifted towards BRP. In the top of the seventh inning with two runners on base for MLS, Valentin hit a slow roller between the pitcher and shortstop. Instead of the BPR pitcher throwing to third base for the force out, he turned and fired to first. Valentin beat the throw and Jacob Park rounded third and went for home.
Kelly, from first, rounded second hard and went to third, and the first baseman for BPR delayed his throw; Park scored from second base, giving the Cougars back the lead.
With Valentin on first and Kelly on third, Coach Della Marco gave the sign for the delayed steal.
Valentin executed to perfection, getting in a rundown and allowing Kelly to score from third before the tag was made on Valentin for the third out.
The Cougars took a 6-4 lead and held on in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded and two outs as first baseman Eddie Mamut made a great play catching a line drive and stepping on first base to end the game.
MLS Athletic Director James Regan is pleased with the team and support the Maspeth squad has received.
“Martin Luther School is proud of our student athletes and all they have accomplished this year on the diamond,” he stated. “This semi-final victory over Bay Ridge Prep in the PSAA playoff semi-finals was a example of just what hard work and determination can produce. However, without the leadership, direction and focus of head coach John Della Marco this would not have been possible. The season is coming down to one more game that’s all the coach has asked for, just one more game, one more chance. Go Cougars!”
The Cougars played for the Championship game on Wednesday, May 23 at MCU Park vs. the topseeded Brooklyn Friends School, seeking back-to-back PSAA league champions. (Editor’s Note: check next week’s issue for a full recap of the game.)
Next year the Cougars will only be losing two players from this year’s team: right fielder Giovanni Bojaca and Schick. Returning players will be juniors Kelly, Mamut, Valentin and Raul Figuero; sophomores Thomas McLaughlin and Charlie Horath, and two freshmen starters: Kahmari Rabsatt (catcher) and second baseman
The team also has sophomore George Aristov and freshman Miguel Criststono rounding out the team. Della Marco also placed three eight graders (Anthony and Vincent Vigh and Donte Johnson) from their middle school on the team to attend practices and working on developing good baseball skills for the future.
“We have such limited numbers, and several of our student-athletes it’s their first time playing at this level, we need to sustain this and continue to teach fundamental’s and keep the enthusiasm going. Eventually in three or four years we would like to play Division l baseball,” Della Marco said.
Della Marco, president at Academy Fire Protection a National Fire Safety Company in Maspeth, coached at Martin Luther from 1990- 1993 and led them to the school’s first baseball championship in 1993.