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May 21, 2009 / Sports

NYSAISAA baseball, softball championships preview

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At a Glance: NYSAISAA baseball and softball championships

Where: Baker Athletics Complex (533 W 218th Street in Manhattan)

When: Wednesday, May 20 at 3:30 p.m.

BASEBALL

Poly Prep Blue Devils

Head coach: Matt Roventini

Record: 16-0

Player to watch: J.J. Franco

Berkeley Carroll Lions

Head coach: Wally Paller

Record: 18-2

Player to watch: Walker Harrison

Outlook: Poly Prep might be the favorite in this title game, but it had a much harder time getting here than Berkeley Carroll. On Sunday, the top-seeded Blue Devils scratched out a 1-0 win against No. 5 Rye Country Day School on the back of an incredible performance from starter J.J. Franco. The junior right-hander tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout and struck out 10. He had an incredibly economical 73 pitches to boot.

That’s typical of Poly Prep this year. Matt Roventini’s club is built on pitching and defense – and both of those qualities are strong enough for the Blue Devils to be in position to take a third straight NYSAISAA title. Guys like Richie Carbone, Frank Torres, Marcus Hernandez and Max Warner have produced all season, offensively and defensively.

No. 2 Berkeley Carroll is on the opposite end of the spectrum. The Lions haven’t been here since Adam Ottavino, who eventually became a St. Louis Cardinals first-round pick, was a sophomore in 2001. At the time, coach Wally Paller thought his team would be back the next two seasons, but it didn’t turn out that way.

This year’s BC squad isn’t quite like that one – there are really no stars. Phil Seay came pretty close to that title this weekend, though, earning a five-out save against No. 7 St. Ann’s on Saturday and gave up two runs on five hits and struck out seven in a 15-2, five-inning run-rule victory over No. 6 Collegiate on Sunday. Paller admitted his team is the underdog, but the Lions are also playing their best baseball of the season.

SOFTBALL

Poly Prep Blue Devils

Head coach: Mildred Piscopo

Record: 14-0

Player to watch: Victoria Capozucca

Rye Country Day School Wildcats

Head coach: Wendy Haft

Record: 10-3

Player to watch: Rachel Jelley

Outlook: No. 1 Poly Prep got a bit of a scare in the semifinals Monday. The Blue Devils beat No. 5 Horace Mann, 4-2, in a season in which it has been more common for them to prevail in routs. That’s just fine with coach Mildred Piscopo, though. She’ll take a win no matter how it looks. She knows that if her team scratches out a few runs, ace windmiller Victoria Capozucca will make them stand up.

Want to know how good Capozucca is? She gave up no earned runs in a 2-0 loss to Tottenville, the best hitting team in New York City, on Friday. Her defense up the middle also happens to be excellent. UPenn-bound senior Stephanie Caso is over at short and Erica Sollazzo is next to her at second. Both are stars with the glove and the bat.

Poly is definitely the favorite, but No. 3 Rye Country Day is not to be taken lightly. The Wildcats beat No. 2 Holy Child, 8-0, in the semifinals Tuesday. It will be a significant challenge for the Blue Devils en route to a potential fourth straight NYSAISAA title.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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