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Unheralded pitchers getting the job done for many area high school baseball teams

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher Many of the Cape-Atlantic League teams have stud pitchers at the top of their rotations. Guys such as Zach Altieri and Sean Mooney of Ocean City, Kyle Gerace and Nick Droboniku at Mainland, Matt Ardente of Absegami, Denny Brady at Buena Regional, and on and on. And when the playoffs roll around, teams tend to rely heavily on these experienced power arms. But just to get to the playoffs you have to have pitching depth, and sometimes you find depth in unexpected places as the season goes on. That’s been the case for several teams, most notably Holy Spirit. The Spartans, a very young team, started out 1-8 but have since rebounded and improved to 6-12, which isn’t bad considering the type of competition in the CAL American Conference. A big reason for that improvement has been the performance of guys such as Jules Massella, Bobby Spicer and A.J. Russo. Russo is a senior infielder who has done some spot duty on the mound, scoring a big 6-1 win over Atlantic City. Spicer gave the Spartans a gutsy effort in a win over Ocean City, and Massella has blossomed into perhaps the best reliever in the league. Colin Naumchik has performed well for Mainland Regional, turning in a nice performance in a spot start in a win over Ocean City in late April. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O'Sullivan) Colin Naumchik has performed well for Mainland Regional, turning in a nice performance in a spot start in a win over Ocean City in late April. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O’Sullivan) “We’ve played four or five games a week these past few weeks. It’s great to have one or two guys who can pitch at the top of your rotation, but having these kids to step up, you get to see what they have right off the bat. We had a kid, Joey Hartman, win a huge game for us against Cherokee in his first varsity start. That’s something we didn’t expect, but we teach the same philosophy throughout our program and he was ready for the moment,” said Holy Spirit coach Steve Normane. “Bobby Spicer is one of the guys who we had pegged for our rotation, but we didn’t know what we were going to get out of him. He was a JV guy last year, and he’s stepped up and won some huge conference games for us.” Massella is just a sophomore and has quickly adjusted to the varsity level, becoming perhaps the best reliever in the conference just five weeks into his varsity career. “He has the most confidence and fortitude I’ve seen in a high school kid. He came right in and provided that lefty out of the pen for us. We threw him in right away and he’s never looked back. I haven’t seen a better guy out of the pen than him this year,” Normane said. “He did well on JV (last year) so we were expecting good things from him, and he kind of just quietly grabbed that closer role. He gets out there and gets it done. The kids nicknamed him ‘The Hammer.'” Some other guys have really provided a big boost for their teams as well. Part of the reason Mainland came into this week leading the CAL American (11-1, 7-0) is because of guys like Anthony Capasso and Colin Naumchik. Naumchik, a junior lefty, pitched very effectively in the Mustangs’ win over Ocean City and Capasso has been a find as a reliever for coach Billy Kern. St. Augustine senior Mike Ritter came through with classmate Anthony Meduri on the shelf with an injury, scoring a win over EHT, and Nick Hillesheim looks like he could be a solid compliment to Ardente at Absegami. Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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