City baseball opens; East set to defend title

East baseball team 2015

• April 5, 2015

Who cares about the snow bank alongside the right field bleachers? It’s time to play ball!

Last Wednesday and Thursday, the annual East High Tournament kicked off the RCAC baseball season in what should be an exciting spring with at least four teams in title contention. While basketball, football and track draw the most attention, city baseball is gaining in popularity. Buoyed by a growing Hispanic population—where the sport has always been a favorite—baseball is attracting a new generation of players.

As the games begin, I asked East’s Coach Kyle Crandall—whose team won last year’s City Tournament and beat Greece Olympia in the opening round of the Sectionals—to assess the upcoming season.

East Orientals, Home Field: On Campus

East in action vs. Sodus

Mark down Monday April 6th on your baseball calendar. Several years ago, McQuaid left the RCAC to become an independent baseball program. However, McQuaid still plays one game a season against its arch rival. This marque matchup is set for tomorrow at 4pm at East. As Crandall says,  “McQuaid is by far the best team we will play in the regular season and the type of team that we will need to be prepared to play in Sectionals in May as AA is loaded with good baseball teams this year. We have a very young team so this will be a very tough matchup for us so early in the season.”

On his team’s prospects:  East is led at the plate by 3 year starter at 1B and captain, Keyli Serrata. On the mound, East returns its top pitcher, senior Wilkins Mata.  The team starts 6 underclassmen so he expects the team to improve and contend for the City Championship as the season moves on. East has won the City Tournament 6 times over the last 10 years.

In addition, one unique feature of the program is a yearly road trip. This year East travels to Baltimore.  Previously, in 2014 to Philadelphia; in 2013 to Pittsburgh; in 2012 to Cleveland; in 2011 to Cooperstown. For more on the 2013 trip, see East baseball takes the show on the road. Destination Pittsburgh

Edison Inventors, Home Field:  On Campus

Edison has a very good returning player in SS/P Bryan Rivera. Rivera was the true leader for the Inventors last season. The real question facing Coach Morales is whether or not he can get enough production at the plate and on the mound surrounding Rivera to keep the Inventors competitive.

Franklin Quakers, Home Field: On Campus

Franklin had one of the youngest teams in the City last year. The question facing Coach Lee is whether or not his young group has improved enough to be able to compete with the top teams this year.

Monroe Redjackets, Home Field: Cobbs Hill

Monroe is one of the preseason favorites to contend for the City Championship. They fell one run short last year against East and return some key players from last year’s team that should have them in the title hunt. Coach Golamb has worked hard in his first few seasons at Monroe making this team a contender.

Northeast/Northwest Panthers,  Home Field: On Campus

NE College Prep enters the RCAC league with its first ever Varsity baseball team this year. The program has had a JV team for several years and now Coach Sova gets to bring the players he has been working to develop along to the Varsity level this year. It is rare to see a first-year Varsity team have a lot of success but many coaches believe that NE College Prep will be competitive in their first Varsity season.

School of the Arts Silver Hawks,  Home field: Cobbs Hill

This year SOTA will be led by its top player, Kenny Cruz. As Crandall says, Cruz is the best player in the City.  He is a legitimate as presence at the plate as any player in Section V. If SOTA can replace a few key players who graduated last year and surround Kenny they will be in contention in the City again.

Coach Cronberger consistently gets the most out of his players so this is a team that is expected to be in contention at the end of the season. For more on Cruz, see No off season for SOTA’s rising baseball star. Oh, Kenny also currently has the highest GPA in the entire RCSD.

Wilson Wildcats, Home Field: Genesee Valley Park:

I asked how will Wilson fare following the departure of three time player of the year, Owen Gabbey, who now plays at the University of Rochester. Crandall says Wilson lost a lot of players due to graduation last year and rode the arm of Gabbey for the last several seasons. They had a solid JV team last year. The question facing Coach Cavuoto is can he get enough on the mound and at the plate from his younger players to compete for another City Championship? For more on Gabbey see, “Rochester Promise” kept: Wilson’s Owen Gabbey, three time RCAC player of the year, gains scholarship to the University of Rochester and Wilson’s Owen Gabbey; two time baseball player of the year whose family believes in city schools

Wilson should do well despite the loss of 3 time RCAC player of the year, Owen Gabbey

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