After several years of being one of the better teams in the CHSAA, the Cardinal Spellman baseball team has fallen on hard times over the last few seasons.
But with five sophomores up on the varsity team, a solid junior varsity squad and “at least 12 good baseball players coming into the school,” longtime coach Lou Brescia sees a break in the clouds.
“The last four or five years have been tough,” said Brescia, who is in his 12th year at the Bronx school. “In 2003 we were very good. Now we’re starting to pick it up again.”
While Brescia is optimistic about the future, he knows the Falcons will go through their share of growing pains, especially with five sophomores in the starting lineup.
Spellman was dealt a devastating blow when senior outfielder Phil D’Erasmo, who Brescia called the Falcons’ best hitter, was lost for the year because of an injury just before the team went to Florida last week.
That has prompted Brescia to call outfielder Matt Vasquez up from the junior varsity team where he will join fellow sophomores Jay Ruiz, who will start at second, and catcher Besnik Rugova, who has a strong arm.
Where the sophomores are struggling has been at the plate, which puts added pressure on the Spellman pitching staff. That, however, is where the Falcons have some experience.
Senior righty Phil Mangerino, who won six games last year, is the ace of the staff, while Kevin Coogan, a 6-foot-2 lefty who also plays first base, ha drawn the most collegiate interest.
The staff also includes seniors Rich Badillo and Michael Cox, who pitched well in a preseason game against St. Francis Prep.