- Last Updated: 1:01 AM, May 2, 2012
- Posted: 1:00 AM, May 2, 2012
Rocco Rotondi’s preseason message was “the past is the past.” He may recycle that saying.
The Bryant baseball coach didn’t want his players thinking last year’s success – a Queens A West title and PSAL Class A quarterfinal berth – would mean anything this spring, and now he hopes it can be attributed in-season, too.
Despite lofty preseason expectations, the Owls are 5-4, good for fourth in their division, one of the bigger disappointments in the PSAL considering they returned virtually their entire club. The biggest issue, Rotondi said, has been a failure to do the little things, such as moving runners over, hitting the ball to the opposite field and executing defensively.
“It’s frustrating because you go over these situations time and again and it’s like we were just shooting ourselves in the foot so many times,” he said. “As a coach, I felt lost.”
Rotondi thinks his pitching staff, led by Nick Alvarez, Adonis Lao and Darlyn Valdez, has done its job. Until recently, the lineup, so explosive last spring, was just not hitting. There might have been a sense of entitlement, the coach said, with a senior-heavy club that enjoyed success and figured the division was theirs. For some reason, Bryant has struggled to overcome deficits, letting one error or key strikeout snowball.
“I don’t think we could handle the pressure,” Alvarez said, alluding to the preseason hype.
Not all is lost. Bryant is just one game behind Newtown for second place and does meet division leader Adams twice, so it isn’t completely out of the question for the Astoria school to win the division crown. Plus, Tuesday’s come-from-behind, 8-2 win over Richmond Hill may have been a turning point. Bryant was struggling, down 2-1 before erupting for seven runs in the final two innings, including five in the seventh with two outs.
“I think we took a step in the right direction [on Monday]," Rotondi said. “Winning Monday, getting a few clutch hits, I think it relaxed us. Hopefully we can carry that momentum into Wednesday’s game against Francis Lewis. After Monday, we can finally breathe and play baseball.”
Alvarez said the win gave him and his teammate a jolt of confidence, even if Richmond Hill is only 1-8. For five innings, it was like so many of Bryant’s other frustrating losses, until the late uprising.
“We can be dangerous,” Rotondi said.
Cross star heading to D-II power: Julian Bilodeau was a third baseman playing in Bayside Little League. He had a cannon for an arm, but would always throw over the first baseman’s head. So his coaches moved him to the outfield.Follow @NYPostsports