Surprising many, the Ravens went on a four game tear, including a win over Xavier, to secure second place in the Bronx/Westchester Division, followed by a strong playoff effort that erased the team’s dismal misfortunes of two years ago.
In the 2006 season, it was believed that the baseball legacy once enjoyed by the Ravens was dead after the team failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
“It was embarrassing,” said assistant coach Marc DeLuca. “We never missed the playoffs. We needed to get the program back on track. We had to raise the bar.”
The team did just that, first helping to provide coach Ron Patnosh with his 1,000th career victory, and then advancing into the playoffs where they lost in the first round; a disappointing end, but one the team hoped to build on.
“We took on the challenge and ran with it,” said DeLuca.
This year, the Ravens, overcoming some shaky defense, advanced to the quarterfinals after enjoying an 11-7 record and seemed on the verge of one upset after another, beating McClancy in a controversial best of three series that saw a botched umpire call give the St. Raymond’s a win.
“We had a great group of guys who got the job done,” said DeLuca, not even referencing the controversy. DeLuca believes that none of the wins were upsets, because they went in confident of their chances and each other’s abilities.
Referring to three-year varsity player Xavier Bonilla, who hit .350 this year and picked up 17 stolen bases, DeLuca said, “He always made it happen. He was the spark plug of this team. If he got on base, the defense felt the pressure.”
DeLuca also credits Chris Batista, a senior pitcher who gave up only 1 earned run in the playoffs, earning a 2-0 record with 1 save; and Pasquale Magneti, who pitched in as an outfielder and pitcher when needed.
However, after beating Regis, the team’s luck would run out losing on May 30, 15-4 to Moore Catholic and then following it up with a 6-4 loss against Stepniac the following day.
“We had our chances,” DeLuca said. “We had the tying run up with runners at 1st and 3rd at one point [against Stepinac] and grounded right into a double play. It could have gone a different way, but we are very happy with how the season went.”
Next year, St. Raymond’s will have graduated 10 seniors, but are in no way calling the 2009 season a rebuilding year. With freshman Emmanuelle Rivera considered to be one of the best hitters on the team, sophomore Hans Arias expected to be the #1 starting pitcher next season and an excellent JV feeder system in place, DeLuca believes the Ravens will be back in the hunt for a championship without missing a beat.
“We are very confident in our players,” DeLuca assures. “We know that on any given day, we can play with the best teams and win.”