One never coached at a varsity level before; the other has ten years of JV ball in his resume. New Paltz’s Tony Saracino — a committed “baseball junkie” — has taken over the varsity baseball program from Billy Defino, the long-time JV coach who stepped into the varsity job as a program-saver last year (and is back as JV coach); and Highland’s John Manganiello — another “baseball junkie” — who put in a decade readying Highland ballplayers for the varsity program, are it. They both inherit solid teams with lots of depth…and potential.
New Paltz’s season ended on a sour note after its 13-5 regular season, losing on a last-batter infield misplay to lose a Section 9 Class A semifinal to perennial nemesis Cornwall. “It wasn’t pretty,” says Defino, interviewed in place of the new coach, “and we lost some top players in Joey DiMarco, Nic Messina, Aaron Murphy and Adam Stolfe — all starters and solid hitters — but we return a solid core of players and a group of good younger players who should be able to step in and play a lot.”
Returning for the Huguenots are senior ace pitcher/shortstop Sean Boyle, senior pitcher/catcher/third baseman Mike Holohan, sophomore catcher Anthony DiMarco (still recovering from a serious football injury), junior second baseman/shortstop Aidan Hoffman, junior centerfielder Alex Barese, junior outfielder/catcher Marcus Fariello, senior first baseman Matt Koplik, senior pitcher/utility player Ben Drilling and sophomore pitcher/outfielder Matteo Gutierrez. Senior slugging first baseman Max Lunati switched to track.
Newcomers are sophomore first baseman/outfielder Teddy Saracino, sophomore second baseman Zach Musso, sophomore pitcher/first baseman Patrick Murphy, sophomore pitcher/third baseman Nick Fanelli, junior outfielder Nick Russo, junior outfielder Ryan Dennison and junior pitcher Dylan Winslow.
Manganiello inherits a 10-8 team which lost to Rondout in a Section 9 Class B semifinal to end the season, and lost key players in Frankie Alfonso and Isaiah Daubon. “I’ve known these guys since Little League, through JV’s, so I know they’re good players with a good baseball culture, good team guys, solid, with good senior leadership. And with pitching, we should be deep again,” says the new varsity coach.
So, starting with that pitching, Highland returns ace Kevin Brennie, a fourth-year starter who also will play shortstop; senior Tyler DeQuarto (also first base), freshman sensation (he threw a no-hitter in his only start last year) Ethan Thompson (also outfield); junior John Scalo — up from JV’s (also outfield) and senior Dylan Warren (third base/shortstop), plus senior infielder Nick Turner, senior centerfielder/catcher Dario DiValentino, senior Max Vidal (catcher/third base/first base), senior Tom Cippolini (second base), senior Josh Sutton (outfield/third base), senior Tymar Goodson (outfield) and senior Andrew Ligotino (outfield).
Newcomers (up from JV’s) are junior Mat Malheiro (outfield/first base), junior Andrew Trezza (second base) and junior Julian Melz (outfield).
“We should have a good year,” says Manganiello.
New Paltz baseball opens the season at home against Division 1 foe FDR on Monday, April 9 at 4 p.m.; while Highland hosts Monroe-Woodbury in a non-league game on Wednesday, April 4 at 4 p.m.