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No NY College Baseball Cinderellas This Year But Two Newbies To Vie for PSAL Baseball Title At Yankee Stadium (updated)

In my last post, I saluted three NY area college baseball teams, Army, Fordham, and Stony Brook, that made the Division I regional playoffs leading to the College World Series starting on June 15 in Omaha.

 

There will be no NY-area Cinderella this year as all three teams were eliminated quickly in the double-elimination tourney. Yet players from each team were drafted in last week's annual MLB amateur free agent draft.

 

**Fordham RHP Kyle Martin was drafted in the 15th round by the Orioles.

**SUNY-Stony Brook CF Michael Wilson was picked in the 16th round by the Brewers.

** His SB teammate SS Nick Grande was chosen by the AZ Diamondbacks in the 19th round.

**Army's catcher Jacob Hurtubise was picked by Seattle Mariners in the 39th and next-to-last round. 

 

More below on other area players picked in the draft.  But first here's a heads-up on what should be a memorable matchup this coming Wed night June 12th at 7p at Yankee Stadium.  

 

The high school baseball championship of the PSAL (Public Schools Athletic League) will feature two newcomers to the title game, the Beacon Blue Demons versus the Gregorio Luperon Generals.  Both Manhattan schools earned the right to the title game by beating the previous two city champions, Grand Street coached by Mel Martinez and James Monroe led by Mike Turo.

 

Beacon won two out of three at Grand Street's home field in Brooklyn. Originally the school was called Eastern District HS (alma mater of late MLB RHP Saul Rogovin, later an English teacher at the school.  

 

Grand Street Campus is the alma mater of Yankee relief picher Dellin Betances (who unfortunately has suffered a setback in his battle with a sore shoulder). Beacon beat the 2016 PSAL champion behind two complete game performances by junior Adam Bogosian and senior Max Moss.

 

Tom Covotsos, the only baseball coach Beacon has had since the school was created in midtown Manhattan in the early 1990s, credits pitching and defense and knowing how to bunt and defend against the bunt as the keys to Beacon's rise to the title game.    

 

Under coach Rico Pena, Gregorio Luperon HS (named for a Dominican Republic general of the 19th century) deprived the Bronx's James Monroe HS of a three-peat.  Pena has a sense of baseball history because he brought members of his team a few years ago to the dedication of Willie Mays Plaza at 8th Ave and 155th Street above the New York Giants' legendary Polo Grounds. 

 

Before the Beacon-Luperon 7p game, there will be a 4pm matchup between Brooklyn's Lafayette HS and Manhattan's Inwood Campus, winners of semi-finals for schools with smaller enrollments than Beacon, Luperon, Grand Street, and Monroe..

 

It is free admission for both games. If you like good competition with WOODEN BATS, check out the action this coming Wednesday June 12th.

 

Now some more notes on the MLB draft with news of area players selected.

 

**The Yankees made SS Anthony Volpe their number one pick out of Delbarton School in Morristownl NJ. 

His teammate RHP Jack Leiter, son of former Yankee-Met LHP Al Leiter, was chosen in the 20th round by the Yanks but he is likely to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

 

[Speaking of Vanderbilt, they qualified yet again for the College World Series by eliminating Duke. Freshman RHP Kumar Rocker threw a no-hitter with 19 strikeouts to even the regional series and Vanderbilt routed Duke in the rubber match. 

 

And as of Monday morning June 10, only two spots remain in the 8-team CWS field.  Auburn and North Carolina will decide one spot, and Mississippi at Arkansas the other one later on Monday. 

 

Already in are Florida State, coach Mike Martin in his 40th and last year trying to win his first CWS title; Louisville; Michigan, Branch Rickey's law school alma mater that knocked off top national seed UCLA, Jackie Robinson's alma mater; Mississippi State; Texas Tech; and Vanderbilt.] 

 

More on the MLB draft selectees:

 **Columbia's LHP Josh Simpson was picked by the Miami Marlins in the 32nd round and is likely to forgo a fifth year of eligiblity at Duke to try his hand in the pros.

 

**The first Ivy Leaguer picked was Simon Whiteman, Yale SS, drafted in the 9th round by the Giants.  In the same week he found out that he was named an academic all-America. 

 
**Gavin Hollowell, a RHP from St. John's and New Jersey, was the first of several Red Storm players picked - in the sixth round by the Colorado Rockies.

 

**Ricky DeVito, RHP from Seton Hall, was the first Pirate to be drafted, in the 8th round by the Braves. 

 

**Gustavo Sosa, Tottenville HS catcher, was drafted in 19th round by the Blue Jays.  

I believe he was the first and perhaps the only PSAL player  drafted. 

 

But remember you can play pro ball even if you are not drafted.  Adam Jones, a top draft choice with Seattle who came to stardom with Orioles and is now with Diamondbacks, once put it beautifully:  "You are only a number one draft pick for one day."  

 

After that it is all about work ethic and the ability to bounce back from inevitable defeats in the often cruel grind of the pro game.  

 

That's all for now.  Always remember:  Take it easy but take it.

 


 

 

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Coping With No Baseball: Giamatti's Lyricism Always Helps + Farewell to Willie McCovey

"You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops." So wrote the late Bart Giamatti, baseball commissioner and onetime Yale professor and university president, in his classic essay "The Green Fields of the Mind."

How consoling are these words as Daylight Savings Time has ended for most of the country and we are faced with increased darkness until the arrival of the winter solstice around December 21. I watch my share of basketball and football and hockey on TV but it is no substitute for the drama and excitement of baseball.

Of course, we have our baseball memories, near and far, to sustain us. There is no doubt that the Boston Red Sox are worthy World Series winners. They showed it was no fluke that they won the AL East with a team-record 108 victories.

They eliminated the Yankees and defending champion Astros to win the American League pennant, losing only one game in each series. They won a generally well-played often gripping World Series in five games over the Dodgers, a bridesmaid for the second year in a row.

Perhaps the mettle of this year's Bosox squad was best exemplified by its reaction to its only World Series loss, a record-breaking 18-inning seven-hour-plus 3-2 defeat on Max Muncy's home run off Nathan Eovaldi.

Immediately thereafter brilliant rookie manager Alex Cora called a rare team meeting in the clubhouse to congratulate the team's effort. The team applauded Eovaldi's great six-inning effort out of the bullpen when he was listed as the Game 4 starter.
Big run producer J.D. Martinez said it might have been a loss but it was a great experience to compete in such a historic game.

Journeyman outfielder/first baseman Steve Pearce was voted the Series MVP for his batting heroics in the last two games. His solo homer tied Game 4 in 8th inning and his bases-clearing double provided the insurance runs in the 9th.

Pearce's two-run blast in the first inning the next night set the tone for the clincher.
It was a huge blow off losing pitcher Clayton Kershaw because it is hard to overestimate what scoring first means in any game, especially after the Dodgers had lost a four-run late lead in the prior game.

David Price won the final game with seven solid innings. A case could be made for Price to have won a co-MVP award although there were only five voters to assure that there was only one winner.

It was nice to see Price get the post-season monkey off his back because he had failed repeatedly in recent years to come up big in the playoffs. But this year he also won Game 2 with six solid innings and relieved effectively in the extra-inning classic third game.

Vanderbilt University baseball coach Tim Corbin has to be especially proud of his progeny because in addition to developing Price in college, another Commodore rookie Walker Buehler also pitched outstanding ball for the Dodgers.

Before I close, I want to remember Willie McCovey who passed away late last month from multiple ailments at the age of 80. He was one of many players who came up too late to help my first team the New York Giants who left New York for San Francisco after the 1957 season.

Imagine how McCovey and his teammates Felipe Alou and Orlando Cepeda would have fared with the short left and right field fences at the Polo Grounds. Certainly Willie Mays would have broken Babe Ruth's 714 home run record if he hadn't been consigned to the winds of Candlestick Park. At least he experienced five seasons in New York.

McCovey's debut in San Francisco was memorable. I happened to be listening to Les Keiter's recreating of Giant games on WINS radio on July 30, 1959. All Willie did was belt two triples and two singles off another future Hall of Famer Phillies pitcher Robin Roberts.

McCovey may be most remembered for a ball that became an out, the scalding line drive off Yankee pitcher Ralph Terry at Bobby Richardson that ended the seventh game of the 1962 World Series with the tying and winning runs in scoring position.

I prefer he be remembered for the body of his work on his field, including 521 career home runs, tying him with Ted Williams. He was a class guy on and off the field. He was always was accessible to fans and became a revered ambassador for the Giants who wisely named the water area beyond the right field fence at San Francisco's ATT Park "McCovey Cove."

There is a famous 100-year-old deli on the Upper West Side of Manhattan called "Barney Greengrass The Sturgeon King." Though McCovey never ate there, he heard about the sturgeon and had it mail ordered to the West Coast.

There is a picture of Willie in Barney Greengrass's window. I think of Willie "Stretch" McCovey when I stop in at Barney's and always will.

That's all for now. Again remember to express your vote on November 6th if we want our democracy to recover its balance. And never forget: Take it easy but take it!
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