hen Rye Neck High School defeated Mahopac 9-2 April 19, it was only the latest in a skein of wins for the team from Hornidge Road.
By Mitch Silver
When Rye Neck High School defeated Mahopac 9-2 April 19, it was only the latest in a skein of wins for the team from Hornidge Road. Two days earlier they beat Bethel, a Connecticut power, 10-3, and three days before that they topped Scarsdale, 4-1. Only an early-season 2-2 tie in ten innings with Byram Hills mars an otherwise perfect 2014 season.
No one should be surprised. A year ago, the Panthers blitzed through all comers to go 18-2 in the regular season and win three playoff games before coming up short against Ardsley in the Class B championship game, 4-1. A dozen players from that team returned to finish what they started, including seniors Thomas Pipolo at catcher and Chris Cascione at shortstop, both all-State selections last season.
“They’ve been great,” Coach Tyler Slater said. “When they were freshmen, they were probably the two best hitters on our team. Now they’re bigger and stronger, so it’s a very nice luxury to have those two guys.”
The Black Cats cemented their claim as kings of the local hill in a battle of baseball unbeatens April 11. That’s when the Panthers shut out the visiting Rye High Garnets, 7-0. The whitewashing came on the heels of an earlier trouncing of Rye Country Day, a 17-2 debacle that was called after five innings by mutual consent.
Two-sport star Matt Franks toed the rubber against the Garnets and limited them to three hits. Angelo Spedafino demonstrated similar mastery three days earlier against Country Day. In both games, Panther bats were finding baseballs to drive:
Franks, Chris Pennell, Matt Garcia, Ryan Aquino, Cascione, Pipolo, Spedafino … the list of Rye Neck batsmen with multiple hits goes on and on.
As Cascione said, “This year is definitely going to be one of our strongest lineups in the past few years of Rye Neck baseball.”
The Panthers begin a home-and-home series at Blind Brook May 2, hosting the Trojans Tuesday, May 6.