Calhoun baseball clinched its second conference title in four years on May 9, closing the regular season on a four-game winning streak and victories in 10 of its last 11 games. Pitching guided the way for the Colts, as they held opponents to three runs or less in every single game over that span.
Finishing 12-2-1 in Conference A-1 (13-5-1 overall), the Colts ended two games better than second-place MaCarthur to snag first place and earn a four-seed in the upcoming postseason beginning Tuesday after press time against Valley Stream North, their first matchup in a two-game elimination tournament in a pool of teams that also includes Carey and Bethpage.
Calhoun coach Art Canestro said he expects a battle from the three teams in their postseason pool, but with momentum on its side, he believes his team has what it takes to go the distance. “I think we have just as good a shot as anyone to win a county championship,” he said. “The thing that’s going hold us back is us. Not making errors and making mental lapses, that’s the only thing that’s going to beat us.”
A major weapon for Calhoun heading into the postseason is senior starter Jake Edwards, who let up only two earned runs all season – both which came in the same inning. “He turned out to be one of the best pitchers in Nassau County,” Canestro said.
Other arms Calhoun relied on was that of senior Ben Kovel, who also hit .500 at the plate, and junior reliever Andrew Crowley, who allowed just a single earned run in 16 innings pitched.
Senior third baseman Anthony D’Andrea, who also saw some time on the mound this season, was a major offensive force for the Colts, particularly in the second half of the season, and Canestro also credited junior catcher Dante DiMarco for his work behind the plate. “He did a great job handling our pitchers and controlling the basepaths this year,” Canestro said.
The tone for Calhoun’s season was set early, Canestro said, when his team jumped right out of the chute facing their conference’s toughest competition. They took two of three games against local rival Mepham, and immediately followed that with two victories plus a tie against MacArthur.
They swept the rest of their conference from then on, dropping only a 2-0 decision to Herricks on April 30. Outside of their top tier pitching, Canestro said their success has resulted from a simple formula. “It’s basic baseball that we’ve been preaching all year. Pitchers have to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters. We have to play solid defense,” he said. “I think if we do that well, we’ll be on the winning side of most games.
Regardless of the final outcome, Canestro said he’s proud of the way his team has improved throughout the season. “Over the last two weeks the tam has really started to gel and become even closer than any time in the season,” he said. “We’re getting hot. Hopefully we get hotter in the playoffs.”