Baseball team misses chance of postseason run

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Courtesy of Tim Costello

Senior Grant Ogulnick makes contact with the baseball in which he hit a single up the middle. The Vikings ended up losing the game 9-1 against the East Meadow Jets on May 10.

Dan Miranda, Assistant Sports Editor

The boys baseball team’s chance at finding its way into the postseason ended with a 6-0 loss to East Meadow. On May 7, senior Tim Costello started on the mound and a less than spectacular second inning cost his team a chance at the win.

Costello and his team had a difficult time at the plate against East Meadow’s Matt Castaneda, who struck out eight in seven innings with no walks.

“The first inning, I didn’t get off to a good start, walking the leadoff batter who ended up scoring,” said Costello. “Then the second inning I couldn’t throw a strike and being able to throw a strike is half the game.”

“This is a predominantly senior team and it kills most of us to lose in a game like this,” said senior Aaron Feinberg. “This one definitely hurts.”

The Vikings’ season, although defined by their 7-12 (3-12 conference) record, had many positives. Five of their starters Wayne Baker (Wheaton), Costello (Franklin & Marshall), A.J. Friedman (Tufts), Jacob Lanzkowsky (Hamilton), and Paul Mills (York) will go on to play Division III baseball next season.

It was not just seniors who found themselves pursuing collegiate baseball.

A couple of juniors are getting recruited to potentially play at the collegiate level, namely Nick Duarte and Bryce Keller.

“Almost every game there was a scout behind home plate projecting his radar gun towards the mound. The scouts came from various schools including Stanford, Columbia, Harvard, Yale, and Duke,” said Costello.

Keller, whose fastball ranged from 80 to 90 miles per hour throughout the season, finished with a 3-2 record on the year, and had several games in which he looked virtually unstoppable on the mound. In the team’s first game of the season, Keller threw 16 strikeouts in a one hit effort against Jericho.

That wasn’t the only time Keller flirted with seven hitless innings, however. The highly recruited right hander threw a two hitter with 18 strikeouts against Plainview-JFK on April 19. Not only was Keller untouchable on the mound but he also hit over .400 on the season.

Meanwhile Duarte, a catcher who also has the versatility to play in the outfield, transferred from St. Dominic High School to Schreiber after his freshman year and quickly became a starter on the Vikings roster. Duarte had a tough 2012 campaign but is looking forward to coming back stronger next season.

“I was seeing a lot of curve balls in the beginning of the year, and it got me in an mental slump, but by the end of the year, I was swinging the bat well and I look forward to carrying that into next season,” said Duarte.

The team was not just a group of unconnected players. Every Saturday, the team got lunch at Harbor Deli in order to build team chemistry and bond together.

“This team was different from last year’s. We had a lot more chemistry this year. Everyone liked each other, and we all played well, just not well enough,” said Costello.

“We had the right group of guys but our top players were playing well at different times,” said Duarte. “What separates Port from the other teams in the conference was that we weren’t able to capitalize on other team’s weaknesses, when they were able to take advantage of ours.”

Just when the Vikings thought things were turning around, after winning five of six in the middle of the season (beating Plainview-JFK, rival Manhasset, and Valley Stream Central), MacArthur came in to sweep Port.

“It was unfortunate that when we were playing our best baseball, MacArthur was our next opponent. After getting swept, it was tough for the team to bounce back and try to sweep to make the playoffs,” said Duarte.

“We were most dissapointed with the beginning of our season in which we got swept by Hicksville on two controversial calls. When we look back on the season we should have easily taken 2 or three games from them.”

Injuries plagued the team throughout the season.

Going into the season the team was afflicted with the injuries of junior Zach Baer at second base, who hurt his lower back while fielding ground balls during practice, and senior Paul Mills who tore his labrum in his shoulder prior to tryouts. Lastly, captain Aaron Feinberg played through a knee injury most of the season after jamming it while sliding into second base.

“Going into the season we had high hopes of what we were going to be able to accomplish but because of injuries that limited some of our key players early in the season,” said Baer.

The Vikings’ injury-riddled start put the team in a hole to begin the season.

“We were not able to get off to the start we wanted and that basically set the tone for the whole season. Our major problem this season was our hitting. In the last six games of the season we scored only a total of five runs.”

The team will lose nine graduating seniors including both captains, Tim Costello and Aaron Feinberg, and will be forced to cope with the loss of so many veteran players.

Sophomores, like Jordan Cohen and Matt Sica (who both found themselves as varsity call-ups throughout the year), will need to step up to a higher level if the team plans on competing next season in the already difficult Conference AA-II.