by Tom Pedulla
Sleepy Hollow’s 17-and-under summer baseball team will rely on a Fab Five of sorts in attempting to make a successful debut in the Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League.
Coach Robert Bischof is depending on five players who have been with him since they were nine years old: standout catcher Matthew Bischof (he qualifies as a lifer since he is the coach’s son), middle infielder Sean McCarthy, slick-fielding third baseman Alec Bjorkland and right-handers Nathan Gargano and Gavin Ryan.
Bischof welcomes the experience they bring.
“It’s great as a coach,” he said. “You try to develop a relationship with all of the kids so you understand them and they understand you. Now, they are young men and we treat them like young men.”
D.J. Owen and Ben Oshins are the third and fourth starters in the rotation, respectively. In addition, Owen is a ball-hawking center fielder when he is not on the mound. Travis Cowles (second base) and Jaden D’Agostiniis (first base) are other players working to refine their skills.
Bischof expects the team to quickly assert itself in its new surroundings.“We have a bunch of talented kids and, if they put the effort forward, they will be very competitive,” he said. “We’ve always managed to be in the top two or three in any league we’ve been in.”
Here is a look at Sleepy Hollow’s other three entries in the Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League:
FIFTEEN AND UNDER: Good teams are strong up the middle, and this squad offers that. Shortstop Luke McCarthy and second baseman Patrick Smith form a dynamic double-play combination. They are complemented by Manny Abreu, a standout defensive catcher, and center fielder Louis Kudla.
Rising star Devin Batheja can man either of the infield corner positions. Outfield help comes from Jackson Many, Andy Estrella (a top base-stealing threat) and promising eighth-grader Talon Carsto. Ryan Owen and Ramon Salazar are right-handers who should help shoulder the pitching load.
Coach Sean McCarthy said of the league change, “We wanted to challenge the boys a bit more by playing top-notch teams throughout the county. We feel confident that, if we get good pitching and make the routine plays in the field, we will be in every game.”
FOURTEEN AND UNDER: Coach Eugene Arduino has high expectations for this squad. “We should do very well,” he said. “We should be well over .500.”
Outfielders Chris Naughton and Daniel Rosario are among the reasons for optimism. Naughton, a quiet leader, excels in left field and provides offensive firepower. The speedy Rosario offers a great deal of promise as a center fielder. He played organized ball for the first time last season. He is constantly learning how to capitalize on an abundance of athleticism.
Second baseman Aren Arduino is counted on to provide an offensive spark. First baseman Luke Many and catcher Mike Manganiello help to anchor the infield. Hard-throwing right-hander Ruben Bertiz offers an ace at the head of the pitching rotation.
TWELVE AND UNDER: This team is a bit of a Pirozzi family affair. Paul Pirozzi coaches his twin sons, Mike and Chris. Mike, displaying improved arm strength, leads the pitching rotation. He often takes his cue from his twin, Chris, since Chris is a catcher.
Pirozzi – the coach that is – welcomes the versatility of Tommy Black. He is a right-hander with the capability of playing virtually every position. Shortstop Armani Curet, second baseman Kevin Richardson and catcher Antos Kozlowski are other key figures on the roster.