The joy of six: Blue Devils capture Ivy Crown, earn No. 1 seed in state tourney

May 16, 2012 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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By John Torenli

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Mission accomplished.  Mission one, that is.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

By rolling past Fieldston, 11-1, last Thursday afternoon in Bay Ridge, the Poly Prep varsity baseball team secured its sixth consecutive Ivy League championship and the No. 1 overall seed in this coming weekend’s NYSAISS Tournament.

“I think we deserve it based on our body of work,” Blue Devils coach Matt Roventini told the Eagle on Tuesday from his office at the Bay Ridge Country Day School. “It was one of our goals.  First goal accomplished, but it was only our first goal.”

The defending state champs, who struggled through an uncharacteristic 3-3 start to the season, including an 8-7 loss at Fieldston on April 13, have rebounded to emerge victorious in all but one of their last 15 contests.

But according to Roventini, the Blue Devils (17-4) are only halfway to their ultimate goal: a second consecutive state title.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” he said. “The kids understand that it takes a lot of hard work. The faces and names change every year. To be able to win six in a row is an indication of where we are as a program.”

Of course, Poly’s most indispensable player was at the center of it all.  

Senior right-hander Andrew Zapata helped the Blue Devils avenge their earlier defeat to Fieldston by tossing six dazzling innings before the game was called due to the 10-run mercy rule.

Fellow senior Andrew Doar had two RBIs and two runs scored for Poly, which extended its season-high winning streak to 13 games with a 5-3 win at Trinity on Friday before finally succumbing to PSAL powerhouse Tottenville in Saturday’s 8-1 home loss.

Poly rebounded by edging Dalton, 9-7, on Monday, but Roventini didn’t exactly take any solace in seeing his team’s winning streak end.

“I believe it’s never good to lose,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a little bit of pressure off you when you’re riding a long winning streak, but I would never take a loss on purpose to teach a lesson. It does wake you up a little.”

* * *

Senior co-captain Willis Cohen and the Saint Ann’s Steamers will be participating in their fifth consecutive ACIS title game Wednesday against Berkeley Carroll at Coney Island’s MCU Park.

The only thing we know for sure about last week’s epic two-game series between Brooklyn rivals Saint Ann’s and Berkeley Carroll is that it didn’t quite settle matters in this ever-intensifying rivalry.

The Saint Ann’s Steamers captured a wild 8-7 victory in the opener and the Lions roared back with a 1-0 win behind Ian Miller in the finale, leaving the teams deadlocked for the ACIS/PSAA Alliance regular-season title.  

Though BCS emerged as the league champion due to a tiebreaker, grabbing the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NYSAISS championships, coach Walter Paller’s team will have to beat Saint Ann’s again to win the ACIS Playoff crown.

The two teams will meet in the league championship game Wednesday afternoon (weather permitting) at Coney Island’s MCU Park, home of the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Miller was breathtaking in shutting down the Steamers on Friday, striking out 11 and yielding only one hit en route to all but securing the Alliance title. Saint Ann’s rebounded quickly with a 10-1 rout of Brooklyn Heights rival Packer Collegiate on Saturday, but failed to post the 17-run differential it needed to emerge as the regular-season champion.
 Junior Anthony Spina tossed five solid innings in Berkeley Carroll’s 10-1 semifinal win over Long Island Lutheran. Photo by Jackie Weisberg

The Steamers bested the Pelicans again, 7-2, on Monday in the ACIS semifinals as Willis Cohen tossed his fourth consecutive complete game, limiting Packer to three hits while striking out seven.

The Lions held serve to set up Wednesday’s compelling title game, dispensing Long Island Lutheran, 10-1, as junior Anthony Spina fanned seven over five solid frames.  

Miller drove in three runs for BCS, which was originally scheduled to meet Saint Ann’s Tuesday before rain pushed the big game back a day.  

When asked if he would take in Wednesday’s epic showdown at MCU, or pick a winner, Roventini remained focused on getting the Blue Devils ready for another run at the state crown.

“I gotta practice [my team],” he said. “They’re both good teams.  Whoever wins, wins.”

Poly topped BCS for the state championship last season after the Lions handed the Steamers their third straight ACIS title-game loss.

* * *


While Saint Ann’s and BCS are battling it out for the ACIS baseball title, another local school, Brooklyn Friends, will be bidding for an Independent School Athletic League softball crown Wednesday afternoon in Central Park.

BFS athletic director David Gardella made the most of his first season at the helm of the girls’ varsity team, guiding the Blue Pride into the postseason before they delivered a 10-6 win over Birch Wathen Lenox on Monday in the opening round.

The victory avenged a 20-5 loss to BWL on April 11, and paved the way for Wednesday’s title game against York Prep at 3:30 p.m., on the Great Lawn.

With 11 freshmen and five sophomores on the roster, the Blue Pride figure to be a title contender over the next several years, which sits quite well with their new coach.

“In my 17 years here I have always wanted to coach this team and the opportunity presented itself this year when longtime coach Janet Villas retired as coach,” Gardella said.

* * *


Junior Gina Piro tossed a no-hitter as the Tigers of Bishop Kearney captured the CHSAA regular-season championship with an 18-0 rout of Brooklyn rival St. Edmund on Monday.
Boys and Girls star Leroy Fludd will attend prep school for a year before making the move to big-time college hoops.  AP Photo

Though she hardly needed all the offensive support, Piro was handed an 11-run lead before she even took the mound.

Allison Gasparino, Amanda DilLeo, Katie McManoman and Francesca Ingargiola had three hits apiece for Kearney, which split a pair of meetings with St. Edmund this season, forcing the third and decisive meeting.

* * *

Off the diamond and onto the hardwood, Boys and Girls senior Leroy “Truck” Fludd announced last week that he would be attending a prep school for one season rather than accepting a Division I scholarship.

Fludd, who captured three consecutive PSAL titles and this year’s state crown as a key member of the Kangaroos, reportedly had drawn interest from several notable programs, including local colleges Rutgers and St. John’s.

“He prefers to take this route rather than go to a university right now,” Fludd’s father told the New York Post. “There are a lot of people who go to universities and get lost on the bench for whatever reason. You have to be both mentally and physically ready to be able to play at that level. He knows that. That’s why we’re going to prep school first to make sure he’s ready for what’s to come on the next level.”

Fludd, who is 17, plans to visit several prep schools before making a decision on which one he’ll attend.

* * *

The 78th Precinct Youth Council announced that as part of its Sports Fundamental Series, it has developed a new training program for flag football, starting this fall.

Registration will take place online at

“Flag football is already a fast-paced and fun way to learn the game without the dangers of direct contact for 9-year-olds and up. This version of football puts an emphasis on team playing and sportsmanship,” said David Nisbett, the 78th Precinct Youth Council president. “Now we’re expanding this experience by adding a new sports fundamentals program that provides 7- and 8-year olds a chance to learn the basic elements of the game in a safe and nurturing environment, without the competitive pressure that comes in the older divisions.”

The Sports Fundamentals for Flag Football classes will be the latest addition to the precinct’s training programs, which already include clinics for baseball and basketball.

For more information on the 78PYC Flag Football program or the philosophy behind its sports fundamentals training, visit the website at

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