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Reloaded St. Rays has eye on second straight CHSAA city baseball title

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St. Raymond is calling its baseball city championship old news, but it has the talent and intent to create new headlines.

The Ravens aren’t dwelling on winning their first CHSAA Class AA intersectional title since 1989 last season. They aren’t running away from the expectations that follow it either and are looking to repeat.

“It’s a new team we are all different, but you are going to get everybody up to play us,” St. Raymond coach Marc DeLuca said

The fourth-year coach believes he has a veteran enough team to handle the pressures along with the extra attention from opponents that will naturally come this season. The Ravens lost six players, including four starters from last year’s squad. They will have to replace ace and third baseman Steven Figueroa, the playoff MVP, and slugger David Sanchez. St. Rays still returns a veteran core with plenty of big game experience.

“I’m very confident they understand this situation at hand,” DeLuca said. “I haven’t seen a championship hang over. The intensity is there.”

Three-year varsity starter and senior Adam Delacruz will take over the top spot in the pitching rotation and play shortstop and centerfield depending on who is pitching that day. Delacruz, who has interest from Marist and Maine, will also be a key bat in the middle of the order after collecting two hits and three RBI in last year’s championship game. Delacruz, however, doesn’t like to label himself the ace on a team loaded with pitching.

“I look at it as just another pitcher in the rotation,” he said. “This team we have so many pitchers we really don’t want to have another No. 1. Everyone is capable of being a No. 1 when you have a team like that.”

That will be the Ravens’ strength.

DeLuca said he has eight to nine players her feels comfortable giving the ball too. Seniors Reynaldo Guillen, who will also play shortstop, and Alexis Martinez will start on the mound along with Frederick Douglass transfer Luis Ramirez. Junior varsity call up Jacob Roman will be the first arm out of the bullpen.

“Last year we had to rely on two or three guys,” Guillen said. “This year we have different arms and different people to rely on.”

What the battling order lost in punch it will make up for in speed. Martinez will lead. Delacruz, Guillen and returning catcher Felix Camacho are in the middle of the other. Transfer Rafael Perozo will play first and William Delacruz takes over at third.

The Ravens are again expected to be among the CHSAA’s elite team and have a second straight title as a goal. They understand it won’t come easy.

“Everyone is going to bring their ‘A’ game to us,” Martinez said. “It’s going to be good. It’s gong to be hard, but we still have a championship team.”

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.
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