It was another good year for city baseball. Participation was up. Northeast/Northwest started its first ever varsity program. And, once again, East led the way, finishing first in the regular season at 11-1, and then defeating Monroe in the City Tournament Championship for its second straight title.
East Coach Kyle Crandall knew he had a young squad when the season opened. They began at 1-4, but Crandall was patient. As the Orientals gained experience, the team reeled off twelve consecutive league victories, culminating in a 17 – 7 victory over the Red Jackets. East lost their sectional game 4 -2 to Spencerport the following week.
Crandall describes how the group came together on many levels as the season progressed:
Our coaching staff knew that we were going to start some younger players. No one envisioned that we would start the season 1-4. However, the older players really started mentoring their younger teammates. Once they realized their potential and began playing together, the tide turned. Another important point in the season was when we took the team trip to Baltimore. Over the course of the weekend, the team really bonded and ended up treating each other more like family members. The bond between the players translated into a bond on the team and led to much greater success on the field.
As I have reported, the School of the Art’s Kenny Cruz had another standout season as a junior. Awarded the RCAC Player of the Year and 1st team All Star, Cruz batted .438 with 4 doubles. 2 triples and 1 home run. Indicative of his intimidating presence at the plate, Kenny was walked 23 times, giving him a .645 on base percentage. In 14 innings of pitching, he struck out 25 batters. In the sectional game against Newark, he broke up a no-hitter and shutout with a two-run double in the sixth.
Most impressively, according to SOTA’s Athletic Director Dave Michelsen, Kenny has been approached by four major league teams: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and San Francisco. Kenny has the potential to be the most sought after local prospect since Cito Culver was drafted in the first round by the NY Yankees.
At the beginning of the season, Crandall offered a preview. City baseball opens; East set to defend title
Summing up the year, Crandall says:
The league continues to make advances to improve. Monroe has established themselves as true contenders the last couple of years. Wilson struggled down the stretch but had a nice non-league victory over Wayne 2-0 early in the season. The biggest surprise was the growth of Franklin. This is a young team with a lot of promise. They beat Monroe and Wilson during the regular season and we barely squeaked by them 4-3 in our tournament semi-final game. Eddie Lee certainly deserved his award as Coach of the Year.
For more on East’s rich athletic tradition, see:
For more on Monroe’s new football program, see: