In 2016, Chris Cappas helped lead the Kellenberg baseball team to a feat it hadn’t experienced in a decade — a CHSAA championship.
“It was amazing,” the dominant lefthanded starting pitcher said. “Definitely an experience I’d love to have again.”
In order for Cappas to guide the Firebirds to the pinnacle again in his 2017 senior year, the group must reach new heights. According to coach Chris Alfalla, the program never has won back-to-back league titles.
Cappas tossed a one-hit shutout in a 4-0 victory over St. Anthony’s in the first game of the best-of-three CHSAA championship series on May 29. He struck out 10 and had an RBI single.
The elite pitching performance was a fitting 2016 finale for Cappas, who went 6-0 with a 1.31 ERA and 60 strikeouts. The two-time All-CHSAA and Newsday All-Long Island honoree allowed a mere 19 total hits in 42 2/3 innings.
Kellenberg (19-5) defeated St. Anthony’s (14-8) in the second game of the championship series, 5-4, to clinch the league title for the first time since 2006.
“There’s no greater feeling than getting that final out and dogpiling with a team that you worked so hard for the whole year,” Cappas said.
Alfalla, who enters his 15th season as the program’s coach and 19th on the staff, has witnessed Cappas make remarkable strides.
“We already knew he was pretty good,” Alfalla said. “But the arm speed just developed, and he sprouted last year.”
After adding a curveball to his repertoire during his sophomore season, Cappas and the coaching staff made a concerted effort last year in refining the 12-6 hook. With time it evolved into a devastating putaway pitch to complement his upper 80s-low 90s fastball in two-strike situations.
“I’ve faced him in scrimmages,” said senior shortstop Andrew Russell, who hit .329 with one home run, 16 RBIs and 16 runs scored in 2016. “No one wants to face him. His stuff is on another level.”
The same could be said of Cappas with the bat. He hit .370 with two home runs, 11 RBIs, four doubles and four triples last season. Cappas also stole 10 bases and did not commit an error in centerfield.
“He’s super athletic and likes to compete,” Alfalla said. “He’s got great command. He’s a great team leader.”
Cappas will attend the University of Pittsburgh. “I wanted to play in a really competitive conference like the ACC,” he said.
“I think he’s got the right head on his shoulders to be successful,” Alfalla said.
But before taking the mound as a Pitt Panther, Cappas aspires to repeat as a champion Firebird.
“I think our odds are really good,” Cappas said. “We’re returning a lot of players this year. Everyone wants to work really hard and win again this year.”