East-West rivalry matchup pushed back
Cranston East and Cranston West were set to meet on Tuesday to launch the baseball season, but heavy rain pushed the get-together between the rivals to Friday at 3:45 p.m. at Cranston Stadium.
With the postponement, both teams will get to hit the field once before Friday’s game.
West will travel to Coventry for a 3:45 p.m. start on Wednesday, while East will trek to Central at 4:15 p.m. on Thursday.
East and West should both be extremely competitive in a Division I that will likely display a great deal of parity this season, as the ’Bolts and the Falcons will return a plethora of experienced talent from last season.
Falcons will look to make another deep run
West made it all the way to the Final Four a season ago after earning the second seed out of Division I-A with a 15-3 record – just one game behind eventual state champion Hendricken.
From that team, the Falcons will have to fill the shoes of All-Staters Matt Lonardo (shortstop) and Hayden Parkes (pitcher), but they should have no problem bouncing back with their returning talent.
West will bring back its ace starting pitcher in senior Steve Rocchio, who earned the Cy Young award for Division I-A last season, tossing 51 1/3 innings with a miniscule 1.50 ERA. He will return as arguably the top pitcher in the state.
Middle infielder Nik San Antonio and outfielders Steve Piscopiello and Mike Doire will also be entering their senior seasons after impressive junior campaigns.
San Antonio led the Falcons in average (.362), runs (22) and doubles (seven) last season, and he was second on the team with 14 RBIs.
Doire wasn’t far behind San Antonio with a .351 average, good for second on the team, to go along with nine RBIs and five doubles.
Piscopiello shined defensively, and he also added 11 runs scored and 10 RBIs at the dish.
Junior first baseman Drew Spirito produced 13 RBIs and five doubles as just a sophomore last spring, as well.
East stocked with experience
The ’Bolts should have no problem building off a 9-9 season last year if they can remain healthy, as they’ll return their top seven hitters.
Junior catcher Alex Martinez and senior first baseman Jacob Palazzo will highlight the list of returners. Martinez led East in batting average at .407 with 12 RBIs, while Palazzo drove in a team-high 13 runs to go along with a .400 average.
Patrolling centerfield will be senior Jacob Frost, who batted at a .321 clip last year with a team-high nine stolen bases, 14 runs and three doubles.
Sophomore shortstop Robenson Antoine compiled a .375 average in 34 plate appearances as a freshman, and outfielder/infielder Anthony Ramos should be another key piece in East’s lineup after hitting .269 with nine RBIs last year.
Juniors Justin Neary and Marcos Badia will also bring depth to the lineup after finishing sixth and seventh on the team, respectively, in average as sophomores.