Poly Prep’s baseball team is putting the disappointment of last season as far behind it as it can.
Speaking about the first-round playoff loss that ended its quest for a fourth-straight private school state title is verboten. The only talk is about what this year’s team needs to do to bring the championship back.
“I think it motivates them, but they don’t talk about it,” Blue Devils baseball coach Matt Roventini said. “I don’t think we need to talk about it. We know it’s there.”
Poly is also fully aware it again has the ingredients it used to string crowns together. The Blue Devils feature three shutdown arms at the top of a deep group of pitchers. Louisiana State University commit Nick Storz is already throwing in the low 90s early in the season and will look to build off a year where he went 3–1 with 52 strikeouts in 33 innings. Storz, who will also play right field, is looking to further harness his control will rely on more than just speed to get the ball by batters.
“It’s definitely slowing the game down and getting back to the mechanics,” he said. “Sometimes you try to overpower hitters when you can take it easy and pinpoint locations.”
Sophomore Oliver McCarthy, who stands 6-foot-3, has emerged as the team’s No. 2 starter. He was consistently at in the low to middle 80s while the team was down in North Carolina.
Senior Tyler Wincig, who is headed to Bucknell, is back on the mound after elbow trouble last season. Dylan Martinelli and Henry Smith fill out the staff.
“Those guys throw strikes,” said senior third baseman Daniel Baskst. “They have good pitches, and they move. They keep the ball in play. They don’t keep us stale out there. It’s fun to play behind them.”
The pitcher will have the support of a veteran infield defense led by Baskst at third and Anthony Prato, who is dealing with a hamstring injury, at short. Prato is arguably the best at his position in the five boroughs. Wincig is at second, McCarthy is at first and junior Freddy Reichlt is the starting catcher.
Poly will have to fill a hole in centerfield after Pat DeMarco transferred. Junior Travis Zurita takes over for him and Ethan Wallace. Chris Cannizzaro will also see time in the outfield.
Roventi is counting on Prato and Wincig at the top of the order — but he’s also leaning on the guys at the bottom to set the table for Storz, Basket, Chris Klein, and Angelo D’Acunto in the middle.
Bakset, who is committed to Stanford, had a breakout season as a junior. He hit .346 with 22 runs batted in, 20 runs, and a .596 slugging percentage. He is expected to build off it after a strong summer.
“This season he is going to have a monster year,” Storz said.
The Blue Devils hope the same can be said by season’s end — when they plan to hoist the championship trophy yet again.
“Our pitching depth is there,” Storz said. “Our hitting is there. Our defense is there. Everything is going to click for us this season.”