By MIKE SMITH
With an extra-inning win over Mamaroneck on May 8, the New Rochelle Huguenots secured sole possession of the 2014 league II-B championship.
As the Huguenots prepare for the sectional playoffs, they hope the pitching—and camaraderie—that carried the team all season long will continue to be a strength.
Against the Tigers, New Rochelle walked off with a win—and the league title—after a Jared Almonte squeeze plated Mike Schaub for a 2-1 win.
The latest victory–just one of several close calls for the Huguenots this year–is inviting comparisons between this year’s squad and New Rochelle’s 2003 squad, which also took home a league championship.
“I would say they are very similar teams,” head coach Pete Annunziata said. “They’re very cohesive, a tough bunch of kids and they’ve supported each other all year long.”
Annunziata said while the close wins have helped forge the team’s identity, he knew coming into the year this was a group of players who had the competitive mindset to excel in big spots.
“I think they’re winning these games because they’re close,” Annunziata said. “They’ve been close from the beginning, guys working out all winter together and I think that helps them on the field.”
Also a help, Annunziata said, is the talented pitching staff.
Louis Miceli has emerged as a top-flight ace this year, but junior Jojo Gray has also acquitted himself well as a terrific second option. Gray picked up the win against Mamaroneck, scattering 4 hits over 8 innings and striking out 11 batters.
“Jojo’s confidence is sky-high right now,” Annunziata said. “He’s one of the top pitchers around.”
With the sectional playoffs slated to start this week, New Rochelle has likely earned at least one home game. The Huguenots will need Gray, Miceli and the rest of the pitching staff to step up if they hope to make a deep run this year.
“We’ll probably need to have three starters, but one thing that we’re focusing on is the relief pitching,” Annunziata said. “We’ve got three arms that can come out of the pen and pitch well.
As far as the rest of the team goes, Annunziata said, as long as the Huguenots keep doing what they have been doing all year and finding ways to come through in big spots, they might have a pretty special postseason ahead of them.
“We just need to play good baseball,” he said. “We’ve got to concentrate on winning one game, and then the next one.”