By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Rosario DiLorenzo felt honored to be the pitcher tabbed to start St. Joseph's College's first ever playoff game. He didn't expect it and the trust that the coaching staff showed in him, frankly, surprised him. It made it that much harder when DiLorenzo lost that game to Briarcliffe in the first round of the USCAA Small College World Series.
"People say that I had a good year as a freshman, but I don't really feel that way," said DiLorenzo, who had a 5-2 record with a 3.41 ERA in 11 starts last season. "I was a little satisfied, but not really. I wanted that game and I honestly can't wait to get back there and really win it for us this time."
It's early on in the season, but it appears that DiLorenzo will get his shot as St. Joseph's baseball team looks like it has the right mix of players to get back to the playoffs for the second year in a row and the second time in the program's history. The Bears currently have a 9-6 record overall and are an impressive 8-2 playing in the Northeast after a rough 1-4 road trip down in Florida to start the season.
"Last year, we got our first taste of the playoffs and this year we have added so much more talent," said first baseman Joe Mendez. "Our goal every year is to get at least 20 wins, we're 8-2 in our last 10 games and we have a good stretch coming up where we can win most, if not all, of the games. We have an incredibly hard working group of kids and winning any less than 20 games would be a disappointment."
Mendez, who recently broke the school record for most career home runs with 14, leads a powerful offense that is expected to lead the team back to the playoffs.
Michael Camerada and Anthony Inserillo, a pair of freshmen, share time leading off and playing center field, Thomas McKenna bats second and is the "best pure hitter" on the team according to coach Jerry Sidman, Mike Cundari, the first baseman and team captain, is relied on in the third spot with Mendez providing the power behind them.
"Our entire lineup is great," DiLorenzo said. "Starting up at the top, those guys can stack up against any teams we play, and there is talent all the way down to the last guy. It really makes you feel comfortable as a pitcher to go out there knowing that they are going to score runs for you."
Chris Cutrone, who recently tossed a shutout against SUNYIT and two-hit John Jay before that, is the Bear's ace that will match up against the opposing team's best pitcher. DiLorenzo is behind him with Brian Lubek as the No. 3 pitcher.
"The lineup is what's going to carry us," Sidman said. "The pitching is better now than where we were last year, but it's our offense. The defense has been playing very well. In my opinion, to make the playoffs you need defense, pitching and then hitting in that order. We have the defense and we certainly have the hitting so we just need to pitching to step up and do its part.”
The Bears have managed to play 10 games in the Northeast so far this season, but because of the rain and cold weather 13 games have been cancelled or postponed so they have not played a single game in Brooklyn yet. They'll make their debut at home against Baruch College at MCU Park in Coney Island Thursday afternoon. It's the first of 22 games in the next 27 days for the Bears.
"More than anything, we're just looking to get back to the playoffs," Mendez said. "We have the talent and guys are focused on it. That's the ultimate goal because it's a great experience. With the talent we have we're in contention. Some of the guys are checking the polls every day to see where we are in the standings just because we got a taste last year and we want to make it back so badly."