Baseball preview: North Rockland
Coach: Tom Lynch
Last Year’s Record: 15-6
C: Tanner Morales
1B: Joe Anselmi
2B: Elbin Martinez
SS: Wordy Polanco
3B: Anthony Auresto
LF: Xavier Perez
CF: Alan Maldanado
RF: Nick Connell
Top Pitchers: Joe Anselmi, James Veltidi, Dan Demetrop
Coaches’ Outlook: With our infield all returning from last year defense should be our strong point. They should also hit better than we did last year with the experience we gained. Hopefully our pitching can keep us in most games. The team seems to be working well together so far in the preseason. If that stays with us we think we can contend in our league.
Fourteen returning seniors equals a lot of leadership
An experienced and talented middle infield is enough to make any baseball coach feel lucky. When you return your entire infield all together, it’s like winning the lottery.
At North Rockland, the Red Raiders bring back middle infield stars Wardy Polanco and Elbin Martinez, as well as third baseman Anthony Auresto and first baseman Joe Anselmi. North Rockland has experience nearly everywhere with 14 seniors returning from last year’s 15-6 team.
“It’s great for our younger guys to have this much leadership to look up to,” Polanco said. “With so many returners, everyone knows their jobs already.”
The relationship between Polanco and Martinez has continued to grow through their senior years. The senior duo has played together since they were sophomores.
“Wardy and I have played together for three years already so we know where we will be on the field,” Martinez said. “We’re good friends off the field which helps us build together too.”
The pitching staff needs to replace its top two starters from a year ago, but junior Joe Anselmi is big and talented. He went 3-1 last year as a sophomore.
“Anselmi is a junior, but has good experience for us from last year as our number three pitcher,” Polanco said. “He knows the steps to be successful.”
North Rockland expects to hit the baseball through the lineup, but will rely on the little things to be successful.
“Everyone is doing what we ask of them at the plate right now like hitting behind runners,” Coach Tom Lynch said. “We’re going to play fundamental baseball and that should keep us in games.”
The Red Raiders have already played a few scrimmages and looked good at the plate against Stepinac, Warwick, and Don Bosco Prep. North Rockland will face New Fairfield and Kingston in its final tune-ups before the season starts next week.
“Between all of our returners and the young guys, we are hitting the ball through the lineup so far,” Martinez said. “We’re not relying on one guy to win the game every day.”
Polanco has the potential to be that one guy though. The shortstop looks like the real deal in the field and at the plate. His bat speed looks to be in mid-season form already.
“Wardy and the defense will be strong, but it will come down to our pitching keeping us in games,” Lynch said. “If we pitch well, we’ll be there at the end.”
Follow John Malone on Twitter: @MSGV_Malone