Hudson Valley Sports Report

2018 HVSR HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL DREAM TEAM

Talent And Passion Mark This Year’s Players

By Rich Thomaselli
HVSR Staff

To list the accomplishments of baseball players who have come out of Hudson Valley high schools and gone on to success in college and professional ball is a whole other story.

Suffice to say, we have no doubt that many of the competitors who played in the 2018 season will follow in the footsteps of past standouts from the area.

It was another solid year as five local teams – Kingston, Cornwall, Marlboro, Pine Plains and Tuxedo – all made the state quarterfinals, 18 players were named All-State, and Beacon pitcher Lenny Torres was selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft by the Cleveland Indians.

That’s the backdrop for the 2018 Hudson Valley Sports Report Baseball Dream Team.

HVSR covers 56 high schools in a five-county area, making this one of the most significant, comprehensive postseason all-star teams of any local media outlet.

The premise of the Dream Team is to build a squad from scratch, position by position, instead of just blithely putting together a position-less group that can result in an unbalanced team. Choosing the Dream Team is a very discriminating process and means making difficult choices in constructing an equitable team with a certain amount of players at each position. Ultimately, however, it produces one of the most selective, relevant postseason all-star teams in the area.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
SAM MONGELLI, MARLBORO

Sam Mongelli is one of those rare athletes who plays three varsity sports. Even rarer, he excels in all three.

Especially baseball.

Mongelli had a torrid 2018 junior season (yes, he’s back again next year). For starters, he batted .517 in leading the Dukes to the Section 9, Class B championship and a berth in the state quarterfinals.

Think about that for a second. A .517 batting average means Mongelli was getting a base hit, on average, every other time he came to the plate. Slightly more than that, actually.

He also had five home runs, four triples, 10 doubles and 32 runs batted in. And, get this – his OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) was an off-the-charts 1.659.

“What more could you ask of your No. 3 batter?” Marlboro coach John Morrissey said. “He is a presence in the box and quite possibly the best hitter in the Hudson Valley.  Defensively, he has great range and makes plays that most other shortstops would not be able to get to.”

Mongelli also won four games on the mound and had a 1.88 ERA.

PITCHER OF THE YEAR
LENNY TORRES, BEACON
HVSR was one of the first to recognize Torres’ prodigious talent, naming him Pitcher of the Year last season.

And he didn’t disappoint this season, either, when he easily could have faltered – at least been slowed – by the constant attention that comes with being an eventual first-round Major League Baseball Draft pick.

“In 30 years here I have not had a player that had more eyes on him every time he stepped on the field,” Beacon coach Bob Atwell said. “From stretching to warming up in the pen through every pitch, Lenny had to perform under very difficult circumstances. And he handled it with poise.”

Torres went 4-2 on the season. He threw only 41 innings to preserve his arm before the draft, when he was selected by the Cleveland Indians, but still showed his brilliance by striking out 85, giving up just 15 hits and pitching to a 0.68 ERA.

COACH OF THE YEAR
MIKE GROPPUSO, KINGSTON

Groppuso, himself a former Kingston standout and professional player, was absolutely masterful this year.

This was supposed to be a rebuilding season for the Tigers, who graduated 10 seniors – including three players who went on to Division I college careers and their top three pitchers – from a 2017 team that made it all the way to the state Final Four.

Instead, relying on a bevy of sophomores, Groppuso pulled all the right moves and guided Kingston to a third straight Section 9 championship was a game away from going back to the Final Four.

DREAM TEAM
(In no particular order)
PITCHERS
MATT DENATALE, RHINEBECK – The senior had a terrific season and emerged as one of Dutchess County’s top hurlers with 65 strikeouts in 40 innings, resulting in an earned run average of just 1.27. He also helped his team – and himself – at the plate by batting .405.

JOE FERRER, KINGSTON – Phenomenal season. The junior, a transfer from Coleman Catholic, went 6-2 with a 0.67 ERA, including a no-hitter. He gave up just 20 hits in 52 innings pitched, and threw 38 consecutive scoreless innings at one point.

MATT McGOWAN, ARLINGTON – The ace of the Admiral staff, the senior went 6-1 with 47 strikeouts and a 1.79 ERA. A true workhorse – five of his six wins were complete games. “Coming off a terrific junior year he backed it up again this year,’ Arlington coach Darrell Flynn said. “He pitched against all the best teams in the section. He also took on a leadership role this year, which he exceled at.”

KELVIN MARTE, MIDDLETOWN – Keep an eye on this tremendous lefthander. Marte not only went 7-1 with a 1.10 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 45 innings – earning all-state honors – but he hit .333 and drove in 20 runs at the plate. And he’s only a sophomore.

MATT FUNK, PINE PLAINS – Brilliant year for the right-hander, who went 8-1 on the year, including wins in the Section 9 semifinals and finals, and a miniscule 0.54 earned run average. Funk struck out 71 over 52 innings, earning Dutchess County Coaches Association Small School Pitcher of the Year honors. At the plate, he batted .379 and drove in 22 runs with a 1.212 OPS. “Matt had a tremendous season.  He put the team on his back and refused to lose during sectionals and regional play,” Pine Plains coach Brendan LoBrutto said.

BRENDAN MAHUSKY, MARLBORO – Solid year for the junior. He appeared in eight games on the mound, started six, and went 4-0. “Our horse on the mound,” Marlboro coach John Morrissey said. “One of our biggest competitors. He has pitched in all of our major games against the best competition.”

JOE CASTELLANOS, TUXEDO – Wow, what a year for the junior. Castellanos went 5-4 but was overpowering nonetheless, striking out an area-best 120 batters in 54.1 innings, including a no-hitter. At the plate, he hit .463 with 18 RBI and an astonishing 1.425 OPS.

ROB SERVELLON, ARLINGTON – What a first year on the varsity for young Robert. Servellon went 4-2 with two complete-game shutouts, striking out 26 and giving up just 26 hits in 37 innings. Most impressive? He pitched to a 0.76 ERA. “He was a perfect complement to (Matt) McGowan,” Arlington coach Darrell Flynn said. “He did a fantastic job.”

CATCHERS
BRYCE MORDECKI, KETCHAM –
Meet the Dutchess County Coaches Association Player of the Year, and with good reason. Mordecki, a junior, batted .524 with 33 hits, 24 RBI and 14 stolen bases, and a ridiculous 1.417 OPS. “He’s a tough young man with an incredible work ethic,” Ketcham coach Pat Mealy said. “He’s only going to get better.”

NELSON ARROYO, JOHN S. BURKE – What a combo. A catcher who pitches. Or a pitcher who catches? Either way, Arroyo is a standout. Arguably one of the most difficult catchers to run on in Section 9, he batted an even .400 and knocked in 27 runs. On the hill, Arroyo went 5-1 with a 0.90 ERA, including a 15-strikeout victory over Rhinebeck in the sectional quarterfinals.

MIKE GAITAN, PUTNAM VALLEY – Terrific year for Gaitan, who hit .486 with 13 RBI and a .980 fielding percentage in leading the Tigers to the Section 1, Class B semifinals. “Mike calls pitches, he makes defensive play calls, he’s tough and blocks everything, and he threw out a little less than half of players attempting to steal,” PV coach Joe Natalie said. “Mike is a perfect captain.  He is respected by our players, he can get guys hyped, and he leads by example. Having Mike at catcher for four straight years is a luxury we will miss.”

FIRST BASEMEN
TY GALLGHER, SAUGERTIES – Only a sophomore, Gallagher had an outstanding 2018 campaign with a .419 average, nine doubles, four home runs, 30 RBI and 23 runs scored. “The ball comes flying off his bat,” Saugerties coach Mike Pugliese said. “The sky is the limit for Ty. To have four home runs on our home field (Cantine Field) as a sophomore is a rare feat.”

TYLER VISCUSI, KETCHAM – Tremendous season as Viscusi led the Indians to the league title from two positions. At first base he batted .402 with a 1.173 OPS, 16 RBI and 10 stolen bases. On the hill, he went 5-1 with a 2.24 ERA. “He did it all for us this year,” Ketcham coach Pat Mealy said. “He’s an incredible defensive player.”

SECOND BASEMEN
RYAN TRIESTE, CORNWALL
– An all-state selection, Trieste batted .382 for his senior season and drove in 32 runs for the Dragons. His year represented a quantum leap from his junior season, when he hit 122 points higher and drove in 22 more runs.

DALLAS ROMAGUERA, RONDOUT VALLEY – Just a junior, Romaguera was a case study in perseverance. He tore his labrum in two posts in last year’s regional final loss, had surgery over the summer and worked his butt off to get back. He hit .442, drove in 12 and scored 13 runs. A co-captain, he also stole seven bases.

SHORTSTOPS
NICK NEVINS, KETCHAM – “Nick has incredible range with an A+ arm. He can make every play,” Ketcham coach Pat Mealy said. “He is a hard-working young man who always puts the team first.” Nevins batted .456 for the league champions with 16 RBI, 16 stolen bases, 28 runs scored and a ridiculous 1.301 OPS.

FRITZ GENTHER, KINGSTON – A second-team all-state performer, Genther belted five home runs on the season en route to batting .393. Perhaps the most telling statistic, however, is the one in which pitchers tried to avoid him like the plague – he walked 22 times, good for at least once per game.

THIRD BASEMEN
JOSH KOLLER, SPACKENKILL –
A junior, Koller scored 22 runs in 20 games, batted .389 and had a .944 OPS. As a pitcher, he started eight games with two complete-game shutouts, a 4-1 record and a 0.72 ERA. “Josh is a tremendous baseball player and student-athlete,” Spackenkill coach Don Niese said. “Josh defensively can play any position and play it better than most. Offensively he is a pure hitter and a cerebral baseball player.”

LOGAN DeVRIES, PINE BUSH – Also an all-state selection, DeVries was another two-position standout. He batted .367 and drove in a team-high 17 runs while hitting second in the lineup, traditionally a spot that moves the leadoff man along. As a pitcher, he was 5-0 with a 1.05 ERA.

OUTFIELDERS
JOHNNY HIPSMAN, CHESTER – One of the top leadoff guys in the area. Hipsman, a senior, rapped six triples, four doubles, four home runs while batting .448 and drawing a whopping 23 walks. Needless to say, getting on base was his forte. And Division I Richmond University saw the talent, offering him a scholarship.

HAAKON MELAND, PINE BUSH – A multi-sport star, since Meland was also on our HVSR Preseason Football Watch List. He led the Bushmen with a .394 average, drove in 16 runs and scored 21 times. A co-captain, he helped Pine Bush win the OCIAA Division I league crown.

MIKE BULGIA, ARLINGTON – The sparkplug for the Admirals, Bulgia was the player who got Arlington going. “Mike was another returner who backed up his junior year with a great senior year,” Arlington coach Darrell Flynn said. “He was named captain by his teammates because of his hard work each day during the preseason and season.  He had multiple game-winning hits this year.”

JUSTIN GUILIANO, ELLENVILLE – Only a sophomore, Guiliano was a huge reason why the Blue Devils made the playoffs for only the second time in the last 15 years and beat rival Onteora for the first time in 20 years. He hit .389 with 15 runs batted in, and also went 5-2 as a pitcher with a 1.35 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 36.1 innings.

PAUL CATALANO, BREWSTER – Another consummate leadoff hitter. Catalano batted .429 with 33 hits, 19 walks, 21 runs scored and a 1.079 OPS. He didn’t make a single error in centerfield. “Paul has gained the respect and has become a quite leader on our team.  He has an outstanding work ethic both on the field and in the classroom. Paul is a true baseball player in every sense.  He loves the game and is incredibly coachable,” Brewster coach Matt Cunningham said.

RAFAEL FIGUEREO, JOHN JAY – Figuereo played a little bit of everywhere, including pitcher, but there was a method to that madness. “He can play any position in college,” Patriots coach Eric Frink said. “He was one of the best hitters in Section 1, by far.” Figuereo batted .415 with 22 runs batted in, 21 runs scored, 10 steals and an OPS of 1.272.

UTILITY
MATT KRAFFT, CORNWALL – Outstanding senior season for the designated hitter, who cracked four triples, five doubles and batted .425 with 22 RBI. As a pitcher, he won give games in helping the Dragons into the state quarterfinals.

DREAM TEAM II
(In no particular order)

Dario DiValentino, Highland

Kevin Brennie, Highland

Max Vidal, Highland

Nick Turner, Highland

Joe DeCandia, Beacon

Connor Olson, Monroe-Woodbury

Nicholas Rivera, Monroe-Woodbury

Ian Engenito, Cornwall

Jon Piasecki, Lourdes

Lucca Ardovini, Lourdes

Rob Hensey, Goshen

Chris Rahm, Seward

Aidan Siegal, Haldane

Brian Beehler, Pawling

James Flood, Red Hook

Ben Hikade, Rondout Valley

Evan Normann, Saugerties

Rick Janssen, Saugerties

Jake Roberti, Saugerties

Randy Dodig, Saugerties

Drew Reynolds, Saugerties

Adam Funk, Pine Plains

Tommy DiRusso, John Jay

Rob Gray, John Jay

James Cook, Roosevelt

Ron Vespe, Roosevelt

Jaden DeLawder, Roosevelt

Conor Harris, Roosevelt

Patrick Vivalda, Roosevelt

Jake McNutt, Kingston

Jon Kivlan, Kingston

Freddie Callo, Marlboro

Mike Greco, Marlboro

Eric Grzechowski, Marlboro

Eric Hayner, Arlington

Andrew Strobach, Wallkill

Mike Holohan, New Paltz

Brian Beehler, Pawling

Erik Ramos, Poughkeepsie

Nick Logano, Webutuck

Aaron Langiu, Dover

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