Walter Panas Hopes it Bite is Better than its Bark in 2023

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By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
Panas SS Sam Stafura

Baseball can be cruel, no doubt about it. A look back at the 2022 season will bear that out. Top-seeded WALTER PANAS, with its five D-I prospects, four of which return in 2023, were sent packing the quarterfinal round of the Section 1 Class A playoffs last year while 12th-seeded SOMERS ran the table for its first Section 1 championship in Coach Anthony Nappi’s last year with the Tuskers. Nappi will take over at MAHOPAC this year, which, astonishingly, failed to qualify for the playoffs last year.

These are facts, not misprints! That’s baseball in a nutshell… on any given day, anything can happen.

No.4 BYRAM HILLS, No.11 YORKTOWN, No.14 LAKELAND, No.15 HEN HUD and No.18 BREWSTER rounded out a strong Class A field of challengers, none of which advanced beyond the quarterfinals. So the best team on paper – Panas – was knocked off by No.9 Nanuet, and the fourth best on paper – Byram Hills – got clocked, 11-2, in a quarterfinal loss to Somers. Nothing made sense, and Panas ace Jackson “DiLo” DiLorenzo – bound for East Carolina University in the fall – is itching to make good in 2023 after the Panthers worked their way past a ton of one- and two-run wins.

“It hurt last year to be knocked out so early with a very good team, but honestly it was only a matter of time until we lost one of those one- or two-run games. ,” said DiLorenzo, who, while shoving 90 MPH gas, whiffed 11 and allowed just two hits over five frames in the Panthers’ 11-1 season-opening win over Eastchester. He added two hits, including a double and two RBI while Stetson-bound catcher Dan Witter went 2-for-3 with two RBI, and Clemson-bound SS San Stafura was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI. Sweet-swinging lefty Randy Wiesner went 2-for-3, including an opposite-field three-run home run that spotted the Panthers a 7-1 lead. OF Tony Humphry adds another D-I element to the mix, and juniors, P Alex Enea and OF Travis Carlucci, are poised for breakout seasons.

Mahopac 1B Robert Keller

“I think this year we got a little different approach,” DiLo added. “We know we didn’t hit well last year, and we know that’s gonna be the deal-breaker this year. We have a good squad again and I think we can make an actual run this year. We got humbled last year big time, and now the approach is to stay humble and get the job done. Coach Fata made it clear that he wasn’t taking any of that this year, and that we needed to focus on the goal of winning a championship and that goal only. We had a good opening game against Eastchester, although I didn’t have my best stuff, the guys had my back and helped me out with run support and we got the job done. We hope to keep winning one day at a time.”

Last year, Panas put the cart before the horse. This year, the change in their approach can only be beneficial.

Byram Hills Jordan Baskind

“That was a big thing all the returning guys talked about, ‘no crap, just straight business’,” DiLo admitted. “It didn’t work for us last year, so we had to change it up. I also think we are more focused on ‘one game at a time’, as well, instead of overlooking the season like last year at times. I’m excited for it.”

And that is the only approach to baseball, a game that can’t be viewed in any other manner.

Around the Section:

SOMERS is still stacked and proved its fortitude in a 3-2 12-inning win over Class AA CARMEL in Tuesday’s game – that was resumed from Monday after being suspended at 2-2 after seven full innings of play. Somers CF Ravi Dass stroked the game-winning, walk-off double to plate IF Tommy Tan. Dass, among the most dynamic players in the section, went 2-for-4 with a double, RBI, two steals, and one free pass. Senior Stefan Swee worked the last three frames to notch the win. Swee whiffed six and surrendered one hit. Evan Carway clocked an RBI triple for the Tuskers, who were impressive in the debut of Coach AJ Genovese, the former Tuskers pitcher who bleeds Tusker red and white. The former All-Section hurler has been handed one of the finest pitching staffs in the section with George Creighton, Swee and Andrew Kapika. So, if you thought the Tuskers were one-year wonders, think again

Carmel’s Noah Jettleson (2-for-5, 2B, steal, RBI) and Nick Kreatsoulas drove home a run for the Rams (0-1), who have been nothing but a quality club year in and year out over the course of time.

Lakeland senior IF Matt Toscano

YORKTOWN routed Sleepy Hollow, 10-0, when sophomore P Derek Patrissi showed his stuff with four shutout innings. The kid is a big part of the future of the program and he whiffed 10 and allowed just one hit. Joe Carucci supplied the pop behind him with two hits and two RBI while Dylan Koch doubled home a run and Joe Lanza added two hits for Coach CJ Riefenhauser’s Huskers (2-1), who also hammered Nanuet, 10-0, when A.J. Solla went 3-for-3, doubling and knocking in three. Husker P Lucas Masillo pitched three no-hit innings, striking out five to earn the win while reliever Ryan DiNapoli fired the last two innings, fanning five in an impressive showing. Brian White and Sallo drove home three runs apiece for a youthful Husker program, which did graduate a ton of talent, but shouldn’t skip much of a beat given the talent and coaching. The lone loss so far was a 1-0 extra-inning loss to a solid Rye club. Patrissi and Jack Esposito were solid on the mound in defeat.

The MAHOPAC vs. GREELEY 1-1 tie was epic despite the inept offensive production. Mahopac freshman Drew Lichtneberger, the nephew of former Mahopac great and MLB product Dave Fleming (circa 1987), drilled an RBI double that nearly cleared the fence off Greeley’s UVA-bound senior Ben Schulman, who wiggled off the hook when Quaker 3B Charlie Goodstadt lined a single to RF before scoring the tying run in the bottom of sixth to tie the game.

Greeley SS Ben Falk tags out Mahopac’s Tyler Castrataro

OSSINING’s Mike Lebenson went 2-for-4 and Jake Dymond was 1-for-3 with two RBI in the Pride’s 5-3 loss to John Jay EF, among the top teams in Class AA this season. Pride freshman Chase Kaplan pitched four innings without an earned run allowed for a Pride club that is off to a rough 0-3 start.

Class B 2022 finalists WESTLAKE improved to 2-0 after an 11-7 win over CROTON when Joe Casella tripled, homered and drove home three. Keith Hacer stroked a two-run double for the Wildcats (2-0) while Javier Moronta and Mark Mastracchio each drove home a run. Reliever Mike Sica supported his own cause with an RBI and pitched three innings in relief, with no earned runs and six strikeouts. Westlake ace Robbie Ciliberti earned the win, fanning six and giving up three earned runs over four innings. Croton’s Evan Kurtz drove home and Harry Khan had two hits for Coach Eric Rosen’s Tigers (2-1), who scored 24 runs in season-opening wins over Dobbs Ferry (7-3) and Tuckahoe (17-1).

WESTLAKE picked up where it left off last year when the Wildcats reached the Class B finals before losing to Rye Neck. Nick Castellano pitched six innings in a 12-1 win over Pawling, allowing one run on three hits while striking out six for the win. He aided his own cause with a home run and three ribeyes. Javier Moronta was 3-for-4. Joey Casella (2B, two RBI), Keith Hacer, Devin Ryan and Robbie Ciliberti each stroked a run-scoring hit.

After a down year last year, PLEASANTVILLE will rely on senior P Jaden Lieb who sent nine down on K’s in the Panthers’ 12-2 win over Pawling. He allowed one earned run in the win and saw support from Charlie Dispenza (two hits, three RBI) and Steven Palma (2 RBI) for the Panthers, who also crushed North Salem, 11-1, behind ace Joe Reich, who worked four near-flawless innings (0 earned runs, 5K) while supporting how own cause with an RBI triple. Steven Palma and Will Lent combined for six RBI and four doubles for the Panthers (2-0).

After falling in last year’s quarterfinals, BRIARCLIFF will rely on the 1-2 pitching punch of Kevin DeMillia and ace Dylan O’Malley in 2023. In the Bears’ 8-3 win over Hastings, in which DeMilia earned the win, allowing one earned run off four hits, He whiffed four batters over five innings and went 1-for-4 with two RBI and two runs. In Briarcliff’s 11-1 win over Pawling, O’Malley worked five dominant innings, giving up just one earned run on one hit. He fanned 11 batters. Jon Iwai (2-for-2) homered and drove in three while big Ben Raphael was 2-for-3 with two doubles and three runs scored.

BREWSTER went 1-1 to open the season after losing to Hen Hud in last year’s outbracket. The Bears mashed 19 hits in a 21-1 season-opening win over Gorton before falling to Pelham, 5-2, despite a pair of hits from Carter Dineen.

MAHOPAC, which disappointed in 2022, expects to rebound this spring behind a potent youth movement, a new coach in Anthony Nappi and senior OF Joey Koch. In Mahopac’s 12-2 win over VALHALLA, Robert Keller homered and drove in four. Tyler Castrataro and Casey Brandsetter each went yard and drove home three. Koch added a solo bomb. Robert Dusovic had an RBI double and sophomore P Tyler DeBrocky earned his first varsity W, striking out six over 4.2 innings.

After bowing out in last year’s opening round of the Class A tourney, HEN HUD Coach Van Vourliotis’ team was set to be thrown to the wolves this week in a pair of games against neighboring rival Walter Panas. The coach noted Panas, Somers and Rye as teams to beat.

“Every Class A team can win,” the Sailor skipper said. “We are young, we lost two promising junior starters before the season and replaced them with four underclassmen. We love the makeup of the team. Our rotation this year is all juniors and underclassmen, so we are hoping they gain another year of experience in preparation for their senior season. We play Panas twice this week, so we will be tested immediately in our opening games.”

BYRAM HILLS’ season-opening 5-4 win over Tappan Zee was just what the doctor ordered for one of the sections most consistent programs. Now in Class B, the Bobcats are as dangerous as ever, proving so in the win over the Dutchmen, who failed to contain Ben Rothenberg, who stroked the game-winning RBI single to plate Christian Bellantoni (2-for-4, RBI) in walk-off fashion. Three-year veteran Jordan Baskind was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI and Dylan Ettinger doubled. And the kid, Bryce Baskind, notched an RBI.

Bet every dollar you have on Coach Scott Saunders’ Bobcats making life tough on opponents in 2023, having established a rich history since 2012: with four sectional title appearances (2012-15-18-21), a second sectional title in 2015 to go with its NYSPHSAA championship. And throw in three league banners for good measure (2014-19-21).

HORACE GREELEY is coming off a disappointing 2022 campaign but played tough last week but came out with a loss and a tie, including a 1-1 tie with MAHOPAC and a 7-6 loss to Scarsdale.

FOX LANE secured a No.6 seed in last year’s Class AA draw but drew rival and eventual champion RCK in the quarterfinals, which didn’t end well. No matter the circumstances, though, Fox Coach Matt Hillis will have his boys ready and they looked every bit the part of it in an 8-7 season-opening loss to semifinalists Suffern. The Class AA road runs through Duthcess County most years, but the Mounties are a true test each and every year and the game was called after five innings due to darkness. Fox Lane’s Drew Borelli doubled while Jack Shurgin, Will Rudolph and Logan Provost each had an RBI in the loss. The Foxes are habitually among the best-coached teams in Section 1 under manager Matt Hillis.

LAKELAND lost to Ardsley, 13-12, and expects to make a better impression in 2023 after bowing out in the opening round of the 2022 Class A tourney. If history dictates anything, the Hornets will buzz again after winning Class A titles in 2018-19 before COVID thwarted what might have been one of the greatest baseball runs in Section 1 history in the spring of 2020.

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