Upperclassmen dominated baseball team has early success: Following Strike Out Cancer event, team looks to end season with a playoff spot

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Sean Lui

Senior lead-off hitter Christian Esposito slides into third safely to record a triple following a gapping hit into the outfield against the Mineola Mustangs on April 25. The Vikings hosted the Strike Out Cancer event at Guggenheim Elementary School during this game and ended up with a 12-5 victory.

Kevin Hazan and Andrew Kerr

The varsity baseball team has started its season off strong despite ending last year poorly, with an overall record of 3-16.  This year, the team is 7-3, already passing the number of wins in the previous year.

The first victory of the season came on Opening Day on April 6, when Port defeated Herricks High School 5-1. Starting pitcher and junior Dylan Livingston, had a stellar performance, posting six strikeouts and allowing for no runs in five innings.

Due to the poor weather conditions at the beginning of the season, the team was confined to practicing inside, which proved difficult for students participating in such an outdoor sport.

Although it was not the ideal condition to practice in, the players tried to make the best of the situation.

“The team has been very strong mentally regarding the weather,” said senior Peter Labbe.  “Even though indoor practices for baseball aren’t ideal, we realize as a team that we need to put in the same amount of effort inside as we would outside if we want to win.  We know that hard work inside in early March will lead to meaningful games in late May.”

“The weather at the beginning of the season was certainly frustrating.  We have only practiced on our home field a handful of times.  But we kept up the intensity and focus during indoor practices. So by the time we were able to get outside and play scrimmages and games, we were that much more excited,” said senior Andy Varvaro.

The Vikings have many returning players from last year who look to use their experience to the team’s advantage.

“There is much more leadership than we had last year.  The juniors and seniors are showing lots of respect and there is not as much messing around as there was last year,” said senior Erik Klug.

With the successful start that it has had thus far, the team has certain goals it wants to accomplish this season.

“We have only one goal as a team, and that is to make the playoffs.  That’s it; it’s either playoffs or bust,” said Livingston.

Looking to reach the playoffs, the team hopes to build off of prior shortcomings and use them as learning moments.

“After starting our season with wins against three playoff teams from last year, we know we have the ability to be a formidable team in our conference,” said Varvaro.  “The baseball program hasn’t made the playoffs in a while.”

Defense has played a pivotal role in the early season for the Vikings.  This year, the team decided to utilize only three pitchers throughout the first six league games in order to eliminate pressure and minimize errors in the field.

The pitching staff has compiled an ERA under 2.00 and a total of four complete games.

“We have played a lot of tight games, but so long as our pitchers continue to limit base runners and prevent runs, we will continue to be in positions to win games,”  said Varvaro.

This year’s team is unlike any of the ones in previous seasons.  With some new players, as well as many returning varsity players, the team has a lot of experience in knowing what it needs to do to succeed.

“We are a totally refurbished team with kids that really want to win, and we have great team chemistry,” said junior Cameron Faccibenne.

The team has not lost a game by more than one run this season.

This is credited to the thus-far dominant pitching staff.  Overall, the team’s ERA is 1.14,  for the most part because of the pitchers and their supporting defense players.

Scoring runs has not been an issue for the Vikings this season as the team scored runs in five out of their total six games.  On April 10, the Vikings put up fourteen runs against the Cold Spring Harbor Seahawks, winning the game 14-7.

The Vikings have been able to put up at least four runs each in a large number of their games, leading them to victories against Calhoun and Mepham.

“Our offense wasn’t much of a factor last year but so far this year we’ve had the timely hitting we need to win,” said Klug.

The Vikings look to continue their strong season in upcoming games against Valley Stream Central and Plainview JFK.

On April 25, the Vikings hosted the Strike Out Cancer event at Guggenheim Elementary School.

Kids of all ages and members of the community came to the event and all together raised $1,300 for the American Cancer Society.

The softball team will host Strike Out Cancer on May 2 at the P.A.L field.  The money raised will also go to the American Cancer Society.