The Nassau Countywide Conference is designed to enable struggling baseball programs to play competitive games against teams in similar positions while trying to build toward respectability. But, not every team takes advantage of the opportunity. In back-to-back seasons, Sewanhaka has made the most of its time in the league.
The Indians capped off another solid season with with a 7-2 road victory over Friends Academy. Senior Tim Brendel struck out four while going the distance to earn the win. Brendel also hit a two-run homer. Steven Brendel was 2-for-3 with a walk and a pair of RBI. Sewanhaka, which finished with an overall record of 11-5, eclipsed the double-digit win for the second consecutive season.
Coach Chris Kassoff was happy with the overall results, but believes his team could have been stronger. “Our pitching was fantastic, and other than a few costly errors the defense was sound, too,” Kassoff said. “I do wish we could have gotten more offense. Most of our run production came from the same guys. I felt like we could have won every league game.”
Kassoff’s assessment of his team’s lack of offensive punch is spot on. Three of Sewanhaka’s four losses in league play were by a margin of one run, while the other was a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Elmont.
The starting rotation pitched to a sub-3.00 earned run average, but didn’t always get the run support it needed. In their four losses, the Indians averaged just one run per game.
Steven Brendel, who earned All-County honors, was virtually unhittable. The junior southpaw was 6-1 with a 0.96 ERA. He struck out 68 batters in 43 ⅔ innings of work. Brendel fired a no-hitter and fanned 10 in a 5-0 win over visiting Great Neck North in April. He also led the team in hitting with a .510 average.
Senior catcher Nicholas Balletta had an exceptional season. Balletta hit .435 with a home run and 22 RBI. He was a stalwart behind the plate, calling a great game and throwing out eight would-be base stealers. Balletta was an All-Conference recipient.
Tim Brendel picked up All-League honors. He batted .451 and knocked in 18 runs. His performance on the mound was also noteworthy. Brendel had two wins, a save, and a 2.27 ERA.
Junior Michael Guglielmo will be a key returnee in 2020. He batted .356 with nine RBI. Younger brother Alec, a freshman, missed most of the season with an injury, but has a promising future.
Sophomore Connor Albrektsen struck out 26 batters over 19.2 innings. Albrektsen figures to be part of what should be a strong rotation in 2020.
“We want to get the program to a point where we can move out of this league, but it takes time,” Kassoff said. “We’re losing a lot this year, so next season is going to be challenging. There are some players on the way up who look promising, but could be a few years away.”