West Hempstead back on track


Times have been tough on the baseball diamond at West Hempstead over the past few seasons. However, a strong finish to the 2012 campaign, followed up by some early success in non-league games this spring, had things looking up for the Rams.

After opening the season with four consecutive victories, results have been mixed. The Rams hope an 8-3 road win over Hewlett on April 16, which broke a five-game winless streak, has them moving in the right direction.

Senior Brandon Sherman improved his record to 3-1 by going the distance, yielding just four hits and not allowing an earned run. Sherman also contributed in the batter’s box, going 2-for-4. Vinny DiGiovanni, who is hitting .500 for the season, was 3-for-3 at the plate to lead the offensive attack.

West Hempstead coach Bill Cloughessy is hopeful his team can find ways to score more runs in the second half of the season. “We’ve struggled on offense, and haven’t put enough runs on the board,” Cloughessy said. “There are a couple games that we could have won, but just didn’t get the hits we needed. We’re getting guys on, but we’re leaving too many men on base. I’m confident that we’ll be far more competitive in the league games than we’ve been in past years.”

After playing its non-league and crossover games, West Hempstead (5-4-1 overall, 3-4 in conference contests) will play three-game sets against Conference A-V opponents Floral Park, North Shore, and Island Trees.

While the Rams are a little deeper than past years, not having junior catcher Yolbalyn Canela, who would serve as the team’s third starter on the mound and would be a big cog in the middle of the batting order, has been disappointing. Canela is battling a couple of nagging injuries that have forced him out of the lineup.

Sherman has been as good as advertised. After opening the season by striking out 17 batters in a win over Malverne, Sherman pitched a complete-game gem in leading the Rams to a 2-1 victory over visiting Bethpage. The senior southpaw struck out eight and gave up just three hits. Senior Joe Palladino, who is hitting .419 with a team-leading 10 RBI, was 3-for-3 in the win over Malverne.

West Hempstead stayed in the win column when it came from behind to beat Great Neck North, 6-5. Senior Joe Bitetto lined a single up the middle to knock in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Rams had trailed 5-1. Erickson Flores was credited with the win.

In a 2-2 tie with Jericho, a game called due to darkness, West Hempstead got a strong outing from junior Hardvis Batista. With Canela on the shelf, Cloughessy called up sophomore Charles Smith from the junior varsity. Smith pitched extremely well in a 2-0 loss to a strong Wantagh nine. 

The Rams open a three-game series with North Shore at home next Monday at 4:30 p.m.