Playoff preview: North 1 Group 3 baseball
North 1 Group 3 preview
16-Demarest at 1-Ramapo; 9-Old Tappan at 8-High Point; 12 Sparta at 5-Paramus; 13-Pascack Valley at 4-Indian Hills; 14-Morris Hills at 3-West Milford; 11-Teaneck at 6-Lakeland; 10-Northern Highlands at 7-Wayne Hills; 15-Tenafly at 2-Jefferson.
Defending champion: Paramus.
Team to beat: Ramapo. Mickey Hunt’s squad has been cruising since April 21 and took a 13-game winning streak into the weekend. Pitching depth has played a big part in the run. During a recent stretch, five different hurlers notched a win. Ari Kaufman, Chris Liquori, Matt Osieja, Joe Scaglione and Alex Nickles can all be counted on when handed the ball.
Meanwhile, Nickles, Liquori and Scaglione team with Andrew Mullen, Cory Sala, Josh Abolt and Sam Pecka within a batting order that, when it gets into a rhythm, can compete and beat anyone. Sala collected two doubles and a pair of RBI while Scaglione totaled two doubles and five RBI in those two triumphs.
Pitcher to watch: Austin Solecitto of Indian Hills. The senior southpaw (5-1), who is heading to Boston College, packs a pretty fierce fastball that he can sling in the low 90s. He set the bar for himself pretty high when he opened the season by firing a no-hitter with 11 strikeouts in a 1-0 victory over River Dell. Solecitto is well suited to be the kind of pitcher who can carry a team through a post-season run.
Player to watch: Giancarlo Rozon of Paramus. The senior plays a mean second base and proved he can elevate when he skied to pull down a screaming line drive against Ramapo on May 4. Beyond his defensive range and hops, Rozon flaunts an easy, productive swing and usually gets plenty of chances to drive in runs with leadoff man Tyler Garguilo, another defensive standout in center field, always managing to get himself on base.
Hitter to watch: Steve Cuccio of Jefferson. The senior first baseman recently set the single-season record for RBI with 41 and he packs some power with seven HR for the 19-6 Falcons.
Corner twins: Wayne Hills has benefitted greatly from the bats for seniors Justin and Jason Avedissian. Justin, who plays third, and Jason, who plays first, are stacked in the heart of the order and step to the plate with plenty of power. Justin has displayed serious power with five homers, 10 doubles and 28 RBI while Jason has seven doubles as well as a homer.
Chalk talk: It wouldn’t be any surprise if one of the top four seeds were to claim this section, including third-seeded West Milford. With senior right-hander Aidan Stewart (5-1), his batterymate, senior catcher Brad Pevny (.435) and senior right fielder Garvin Jones (.466, 28 RBI), the Highlanders have all the trimmings to claim a championship.
Gregg Lerner covers baseball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @gregglerner