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Tomasulo, Rosen Rebranding SOAC Baseball; HV ’Gades in 1st Place

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By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
Eric Rosen and Jay Tomasulo
Longtime friends and coaching chums Eric Rosen and Jay Tomasulo are rebranding SOAC baseball by tracing back to its old-school Lakeland High roots.

When baseball is in your blood, it runs through the veins and lives in the brain, becoming a year-round obsession.

Jay Tomasulo, the Shrub Oak Athletic Club (SOAC) Travel Baseball League director, and Eric Rosen, the SOAC In-House Baseball League director, are taking the SOAC in a bold new direction, rebranding the SOAC Storm to the SOAC Hornets and bringing back the Lakeland-style uniforms they grew up in.

“The idea to change the Shrub Oak name from Storm to the Hornets and to adapt the green and gold colors is what I wanted – to connect the youth Little League to the high school,” Tomasulo said. “In my opinion, my job as the director of Shrub Oak baseball is to help build young kids’ baseball skills and also help make Lakeland High School a better program each year.”

Much of the rebrand was on display last weekend when SOAC played host to 28 travel baseball clubs in the 9U-to-12U range in the SOAC Hornets Father’s Day Tournament where four sets of champions were crowned (see SOAC tourney coverage).

Coming off one of the finest seasons in Croton-Harmon history as a coaching pair for the Tigers the last half-decade or so – including a 2023 Class B run to the sectional finals – Rosen and Tomasulo are a dedicated pairing. Between Lakeland High, where they grew up, and Croton where Eric is the head coach and Jay his trusty sidekick, the duo is hellbent on instilling an old-school baseball mentality, an approach they were raised on between their heyday in SOAC and their days at Lakeland High under the tutelage of the fabled Robinson brothers, Dennis and Mike, who lived the baseball life 365 days.

Sonny Graci
Sonny Graci (white shirt) was honored by the WCBUA for 50 years of service to the local baseball community as a coach and MLB scout. Also pictured L-R WCBUA Executive Board Member Dave Greiner, Sonny Graci, WCBUA President Lou Gaudio, WCBUA member Steve Rosen, Fordham University Head Baseball Coach and for Shrub Oak American Legion player Kevin Leighton.

Not to mention their time spent with legendary American Legion Baseball Coach Sonny Graci, who was recently honored at the annual Westchester County Baseball Umpires Association end-of-season dinner for more than 50 years of service and contributions to the local baseball community, as a coach, MLB scout and celebrated ball-breaker #EveryoneLovesSonny.

That cadre of lifers supplied much of the root system Tomasulo and Rosen are putting down as they transform SOAC baseball in their own image.

“This tournament that we started is to put Shrub Oak travel baseball back on the map,” Tomasulo said, who also staged the tournament as a fundraiser for next year’s SOAC trip to Cooperstown. “It’s hard for town teams to compete with all the club teams but we have to try and let our kids know that we can still compete. It starts with our in-town rec program, where our director Eric Rosen does a great job making it competitive and fun for all ages, and we build our travel teams off our rec program.

“I played at Lakeland in the late ‘90s where I still have pride in my alma mater,” he added. “I’m glad my kids can be a part of the same program I grew up with. The Lakeland program taught me everything about the game of baseball, thanks to my coaches Dennis and Mike Robinson.”

Enough said, good luck…

These 2023 NY Mets and Yankees are going to try our patience throughout the dog days of summer, especially if they don’t get the impending and long-lasting returns of MLB All-Stars Pete Alonso and Aaron Judge, respectively. Judge has been sidelined since early June with an injured right big toe that he suffered after colliding with a Dodger Stadium bullpen fence, which is mindboggling given the state of that outdated chain-link fence at the door of the visiting bullpen. It’s 2023, for goodness sake. Pad that puppy up and protect your multi-million-dollar investments.

Although he received a platelet-rich plasma injection on Thursday, the Yankees still do not have a timetable on when they expect their 2022 MVP to rejoin the club. That said, the Yanks are nothing without him, and they got #BodiedInBeantown during a three-game sweep over the weekend.

Alonso returned to the Mets in Sunday’s 8-7 loss to the lowly Cardinals and went 0-for-4 to see his batting average plummet to .227, just another typical Sunday for the Mets, with the added #FathersDayBuzzKill…

I was wrong about you, though, Tommy Pham. The versatile Met, who crushed a game-tying two-run homer in the fifth against the Cardinals, has been clubbing it since June 1, after a dreadful start #MyBadBro, but not as bad as manager Buck Showalter’s mishandling of MLB prospect Mark Vientos, who was 3-4 with two dingers and seven RBI in his return to AAA Syracuse Sunday #WhatTheBuck!

Say what you want about NY Knicks third-year pro RJ Barrett, who has shown signs of becoming an All-Star during an inconsistent start to his career as the Knicks’ first-round choice in the 2019 draft, third overall. At this point, the former Duke star is looking like the best selection of the top three, including college teammate and No. 1 pick Zion Williamson, who was recently linked to a porn star despite a pending baby-reveal with his longtime girlfriend, and has only played in 114 of 246 regular-season games while looking out of shape for the better part of his NBA career. He’s awfully promising when he’s on the court, but the former Duke prodigy has yielded poor returns for the Pelicans thus far.

And the Memphis Grizzlies No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant hasn’t learned right from wrong in his two decades on Earth and will start the 2023-24 season with a 25-game suspension for brandishing a gun (twice!) on social media. As talented as they come, Morant has some serious off-court issues he may or may not overcome. As a lifelong Knicks fan, I’ll take Barrett every day of the week until the others grow up and figure it out. Of the top three picks in the 2019 draft, Barrett’s the only guy you can trust right now…

FOX LANE grad Henry Davis was set to debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates Monday night, making the Louisville product and No. 1 pick in the 2021 MLB draft the 23rd player under Louisville manager Dan McDonnell to make it to the bigs. I have zero doubt that Davis will clout and bring back huge returns on the Pirates’ top investment since they selected Gerrit Cole as the No. 1 pick in 2011.  Davis joins Mahopac grad and former Siena star Brendan White on the MLB circuit where the Detroit Tigers RHP has just recently blown the doors off with a steady 96 MPH heater, leading to a 1-0 record, a 1.69 ERA and eight whiffs in 5.1 IP. Can’t believe I covered these two stars in the making whilst in high school.

While we’re all finally settling into our new routines with schools closing for the summer, folks will be looking for things to do to fill the idle time between vacations and “staycations.” Consider a trip to Heritage Financial Park in Wappingers Falls where the Yankees’ High-A baseball affiliate, the Hudson Valley Renegades, have a three-game lead over Greensboro in the South Atlantic League (North Division) after Sunday’s 10-1 romp of Rome.

Visit Hudson Valley Renegades Single Game Tickets | Renegades ( for tickets and promotional information. Take advantage of this great season-long offer! For just $99, the Renegades Family Four Pack includes four reserved seats, 4 Renegades hats, and four hot dogs, chips and soda vouchers. There’s literally not a bad seat in the house and who knows if the next Anthony Volpe – the current Yankees shortstop who played for the ’Gades in 2021 – is waiting in the wings (perhaps RHP Drew Thorpe)…

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