The Calhoun Colts are competing neck and neck for a Conference AA2 baseball title with Plainview-JFK, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs in the semifinals last season.
Both squads entered this week with 9-3 in-conference records, but the Colts must play catch up after losing two out of three games to the Hawks in which each contest was decided by one run last week.
Down 9-7 in the bottom of the seventh in the second game, junior Val Pagano smacked a ball off the fence for a double that drove in a run. Senior designated hitter Tim Fine then blooped a two-run single to win the game 10-9 on April 26.
“We had a nice 6-2 lead by the second inning, but our pitching couldn’t hold us down, and Plainview kept chipping away and went up on us in the sixth,” Calhoun head coach Art Canestro said. “We were lucky enough to come back and score three in the seventh.”
Canestro expected a deep, nine-man pitching staff to be the team’s strength this year, but his bats have kept the Colts competitive. They opened the season with a statement three-game series, sweeping Valley Stream Central by scoring a collective 31 runs while relinquishing none, winning 10-0, 11-0 and 10-0.
Calhoun then took two out of three against Herricks and swept East Meadow in three. Although the Colts manufactured 45 runs over that six-game stretch, they also gave up 41 runs. Against Plainview-JFK, they generated 25 runs but allowed 26.
“Our pitching needs to catch up to our hitting,” Canestro said. “The hitters are doing a great job and my pitchers are struggling a bit, giving up a lot of runs.”
Calhoun’s batters one through nine are producing, none better than senior right fielder Mike Pokorny. Canestro pencils him into either the second or fifth holes and he has hit for .514.
Fellow senior Jack Pugliano, who can pitch in relief and play second base, shortstop and outfield, is second in average at .450 and leads the team with 13 RBIs.
Third-year starting catcher sophomore Matt Pelcher has fulfilled his coach’s expectations to produce more offensively this season. Pelcher has displayed greater power with two home runs and has generated several walks, RBIs and stolen bases. He hit a leadoff solo homer in the win against Plainview-JFK.
After earning All-County honors last year, junior Jake Edwards got off to a slow start but has started to wield a more productive bat of late. In beating Plainview-JFK, he went 2-for-3 with a triple and two runs scored.
As the regular season winds down with series against Baldwin (5-7) and Long Beach (4-7-2), Canestro vows to focus on tweaking his pitchers.
“We have to fix that aspect of the game,” he said. “Pitching to the bottom of the zone and not giving opponents great pitches to hit and throwing more strikes.”