Marc Maturo’s official sports column
NYPD takes aim to put on a good show vs. Boulders
The Washington Generals they are not.
The New York Police Department baseball team, which meets the Can-Am League Rockland Boulders on Saturday night at Provident Bank Park in Pomona, is not to be confused with Red Klotz’s Washington Generals.
(The NYPD game, set for 6:30 p.m., is the second of two exhibitions; the Boulders meet the New Jersey Jackals at 7 p.m. on May 16. Admission to both games is free but tickets are required. Fans can pick up tickets at the PBP box office or reserve them online (online processing fees apply). Parking for the exhibition games is $5 per vehicle.)
The Generals played foil to the famed Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, generally losing, probably expecting to lose even while providing an entertaining night out for hardwood fans.
The NYPD diamond crew, however, prides itself on being competitive and winning games, against younger teams in such leagues as the Westchester Rockland Wood Bat League, which features a host of collegiate players.
“We’re competitive,” states Stony Point resident Mel Ariola, a 43-year-old former Queens College player who now mans an infield position or fills the designated hitter role with the NYPD, from which he recently retired as a lieutenant with Patrol Bureau Manhattan South .
Ariola, a 14-year team member, played three years ago when the Boulders first met the NYPD.
“I remember it very well,” Ariola recalls. “I grounded out to third base in my only at-bat. It was a nice experience. I didn’t play last year, but am looking forward to playing again, absolutely. I can’t wait. The Boulders are great to us.”
Into his fourth year with the Rockland County Umpires Association, Ariola added that playing the Boulders, a professional team, helps fulfill two dreams.
` “It’s a nice experience,” he repeats. “A lot of us had one or two dreams – be a cop or a baseball player. So it is nice to do both.”
Ariola also said that umpiring is a tad tougher than playing.
“The umpiring is tougher,” offers Ariola, when asked about the difference. “When you’re umpiring you’re a lot like a cop again, looking to control the situation. And when you umpire, the parents can be more of a headache (than the players.)”
The NYPD staff includes Jose Vasquez and Jose Vega, pitching coach Fernando Espindola of Nanuet, who was active on the hill until four years ago, and Steve Phelan of Tappan, an administrator.
Another veteran player, with 18 years under his wing, is Ariola’s Stony Point neighbor Clemente Sosa, a former Iona College athlete whose Gaels went to the MAAC semifinals one year.
Sosa — no relation to former big leaguer Sammy Sosa, but whose cousin Armando Mota, no relation to famed pinch-hitter Manny Mota, reached Triple-A in the Philadelphia Phillies organization — might think about a career in the big leagues himself. With retirement from Detective Bureau Bronx set for next year, Sosa laughed heartily and said he just might contact the Mets.
` “I’m a left-handed pitcher, and you know what they say about us – we have rubber arms,” said the 40-year-old Sosa, adding that he expects to see some action Saturday night. And beyond that, too, added Sosa, saying “They (NYPD) might want to try to bring me back another year!”
Ariola noted that the NYPD is into its third year competing in the Westchester Rockland Wood Bat League, which poses another challenge against a host of college-aged players.
“I want to be competitive, and we are,” Ariola concluded.
The Boulders’ fourth season officially begins on May 23 at PBP, with defending league champion Quebec coming to call to kick off a seven-game home stand, the longest of the summer.
“We are lucky enough to play in front of a good fan base that knows the game of baseball and knows what to expect on an everyday basis from their players,” manager Jamie Keefe, who returns for his second season, was quoted as saying. “They know that we aren’t just out here to put on a good show every night; we’re here to win ballgames and get ourselves in the playoffs and give us a chance to win a championship.”
The Boulders are looking to build off a 2013 campaign that saw them win a franchise-record 49 games, including beginning the year with a 6-0 mark. Rockland also won a franchise-best 27 games at Provident Bank Park last season.
This game against the NYPD marks the third consecutive year that the Boulders and the police will meet in a preseason contest.
South Korean knuckleballer Min Hur is scheduled to get the start for second-year manager Jamie Keefe’s Pomona-based ballclub.
“The guys really enjoyed it last year, I really enjoyed it; not just playing them but hanging out with them for the day,” Keefe was again quoted as saying of the annual battle with New York’s Finest. “I hope that we are able to put a lot of fans in the stands and show the NYPD and their families and friends that we appreciate the service they provide to the city.”
RED DRAGONS MARCH ON: North Rockland HS alumna Tara Monaghan of Stony Point had two goals and a team-high four draw controls as the nationally top-ranked Cortland women’s lacrosse defeated Mount Union, 20-5, in the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament. Kristen Ohberg of Brewster supplied four goals and two assists. The Red Dragons (20-0) will face Redlands (Calif.) at 11:30 a.m. on May 17, as “host” of a four-team regional at Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden. Williams (Mass.) meets Colby (Maine) at 2:30 p.m. Play continues on May 18, with the regional winner advancing to the Division III Final Four in Gettysburg, Pa., May 24-25.
VALIANT EFFORT: The Dominican College baseball team, with a stunning upset already under its belt, battled back from a 7-1 deficit before falling 10-9 in 10 innings to No. 2 Felician College in the winner’s bracket final of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament at Wilson Field in New Castle, Del. The fifth-seeded Chargers, under the leadership of veteran skipper Rick Giannetti of New City, had upended the top-seeded Wildcats of Wilmington University, 5-4, to move into the winner’s bracket. Ryan Calby of Huntington Station picked up his seventh win of the season (7-2) in eight innings of work, allowing four runs on 10 hits and five strikeouts. Peter Martinez of White Plains got his first save of the season as he came in to pitch the ninth inning. In the tournament’s elimination game, Wilmington turned back another Dominican upset bid, squeaking out a 2-1 victory. On the season, junior infielder Robert Alonso of Hurley led the offense with a .317 average and 40 RBI.
QUICK HITTERS: Sophomore midfielder Tara Monaghan of Stony Point, who has 38 goals and six points in 19 games on the women’s lacrosse team at SUNY Cortland, was named all-league by the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC). Monaghan, a graduate of North Rockland HS, ranks second on the Red Dragons with 51 draw controls and has 25 ground balls and 13 caused turnovers. … Junior outfielder Rich Baerga of Pomona heads a six-man contingent from St. Thomas Aquinas College to be selected all-East Coast Conference in baseball. Joining Baerga on the first team are senior first baseman Kenny Kirshner of Cornwall, junior shortstop Stanley Susana of the Bronx, senior outfielder Nick D’Angelo of Mount Sinai, junior DH Derek Hirsch of Melville and senior pitcher C.J. Ferrigi of Bellmore. … Junior pitcher Frank Fantino of Nanuet, a transfer from Southern New Hampshire University, closed his season with a 2-3 record as the Purchase College baseball team dropped its final game of the season to FDU-Florham, 5-3, in a semifinal game of the ECAC Metro/Upstate Tournament. … The University of Delaware women’s rowing team, which earned fourth place in the Novice Eights competition at the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, returns to action on May 18 in the Colonial Athletic Association Championships at Mercer Lake in Princeton, N.J. North Rockland HS alumna Rebecca Sassone of Pomona is a freshman member of the Blue Hens, who finished fifth in the team standings a year ago. … The St. Thomas Aquinas College baseball team, given the No. 4 seed in the East Region for the NCAA Division II Tournament, was to open play on May 15 against No. 3 Wilmington University at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester, N.H. Win or lose, the Spartans are scheduled to play again on May 16. Region play continues through May 18, with the champion advancing to the Division II College World Series, to be hosted by the University of Mount Olive and played at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., from May 24-31. … Winslow Dorsainvil of Monsey, George Erazo of North Babylon and Meaghan Ventarola of Monroe, standouts at St. Thomas Aquinas College, were named to the USTFCCCA all-Region Outdoor Track and Field Team