Huguenots win league

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.

According to head coach Pete Annunziata, the Huguenots’ chemistry has been a deciding factor in several close games this year. Photos/Bobby Begun

According to head coach Pete Annunziata, the Huguenots’ chemistry has been a deciding factor in several close games this year. Photos/Bobby Begun

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.

Jared Almonte connects with a pitch in an early-season contest against Scardale. On May 18, Almonte’s squeeze bunt in the eighth inning brought New Rochelle a league title.

Jared Almonte connects with a pitch in an early-season contest against Scardale. On May 18, Almonte’s squeeze bunt in the eighth inning brought New Rochelle a league title.

“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.

Louis Miceli drives a pitch against Scarsdale. Miceli is the Huguenots’ ace and a fearsome presence in the middle of the lineup.

Louis Miceli drives a pitch against Scarsdale. Miceli is the Huguenots’ ace and a fearsome presence in the middle of the lineup.

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.”

CONTACT: sports@hometwn.com

 
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About Mike Smith

Mike Smith has been with Hometown Media Group since 2007, serving as the company’s Sports Editor. Mike has been commended for his work by the New York Press Association, winning awards in 2008 for “Best Sports Feature” and again in 2009 as part of a team that put together “The Game,” a breakdown of the Harrison-Rye football rivalry, which won for “Best Special Section.” His weekly column, “Live Mike,” offers his unique insights into a broad range of topics in the sports world. He resides in Eastchester, N.Y. and spends most of his free time serving as the player-manager for a competitive men’s baseball team in New York City. Reach Mike at 914-653-1000 x22 or sports@hometwn.com; follow him on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.