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Upstart New Utrecht provides memorable playoff upsets

Brooklyn Daily
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The New Utrecht baseball team’s short playoff run should always be remembered. The Utes won just two post season games, but they were historic ones.

The team became the first No. 30 seed ever to knock off No. 3 when they took down national power George Washington 4–3 in the opening round of the Public School Athletic League Class A playoffs on May 23. New Utrecht followed that up by thumping No. 14 Midwood 10–0 in the second round before falling 14–0 to defending champion and No. 6 seed Grand Street Campus in the quarterfinals.

Even without a title, the members of New Utrecht’s 2013 Cinderella team are still champions to the Bensonhurst school.

“This team really put their footprint in the school,” coach Rick DeMarco said. “If nobody else remembers them we will here.”

The New Utrecht players, while naturally nervous, felt they could match a George Washington program that has produced stars like former Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez and won the city title just two years ago.

“There was a lot of confidence,” sophomore ace Andrew Nathan said. “They are just another high school baseball team. There is no reason if we played our A game we couldn’t beat them.”

It was Nathan that gave them the chance. He allowed just one-hit, walked five and struck out four in 6 2/3 innings of work before Vincent Paraspolo came on in relief.

“For him to do what he did at GW, against that lineup, is just a testament to his hard work,” DeMarco said of Nathan.

Nathan’s team gave him a lead in the top of the seventh inning when Jeremy Crespo swung and missed and the ball got by the George Washington catcher allowing a run to score. Designated hitter Thomas Del Valle added an RBI single.

“When we got the run in the seventh we went, ‘We really had a chance to win right now,’ ” Nathan said.

It was the culmination of a difficult season that for New Utrecht (11–8), which placed third in its division. That’s what makes the team’s run just that much more special. They lost starting catcher Christian Vergara to a broken shin four games into the season. Pitcher Marc Ariza and Del Valle, who could barely run, both battled hamstring issues.

New Utrecht was an underdog in every way, so to win the way they did was remarkable, historic and unforgettable.

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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