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Suffolk League III baseball preview

Smithtown East's Shawn Kelly dives for a catch

Smithtown East's Shawn Kelly dives for a catch but misses during Game 2 of their SuffolkClass AA semifinal against Connetquot at Smithtown East High School on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Credit: Barry Sloan

COPIAGUE EAGLES

Coach: Bill Bennett

2015 Record: 1-17

Key players

Thorin Sanchez, CF, 6-0, 160, Sr.

Josh Lester: C, 5-10, 160, So.

Javier Benitez, P, 6-1, 165, Jr.

Eddie Vargas, SS/P, 5-8, 150, So.

Vinny Ruggiero, 3B, 5-8, 155, Jr.

Outlook: Hard-throwing lefty Franklin Parra, a sophomore transfer from Lindenhurst, is expected to anchor a rotation also featuring Benitez. Sanchez will impact the game on both offense and defense.

HALF HOLLOW HILLS EAST THUNDERBIRDS

Coach: Tim Belz

2015 Record: 15-8

Key players

Mike Palazzolo, SS, 6-2, 170, Jr.

Matt Hogan, OF/P, 6-1, 195, So.

Patch Dooley, P/OF, 6-0, 180, Jr.

James Ceparano, 2B, 5-10, 180, Sr.

Zack DeCicco, P, 5-11, 200, Jr.

Outlook: A deep pitching staff will keep Hills East near the top of League III. The Thunderbirds lost three extra-innings games to Smithtown East last season by a combined three runs, and more experience could help them win the close contests.

NEWFIELD WOLVERINES

Coach: Eric Joyner

2015 Record: 8-11

Key players

Ryan Acevedo, P, 6-4, 180, Sr.

Kyle Wappaus, C, 5-10, 185, Sr.

Bobby Vath, P, 5-11, 170, So.

Kyle Johnson, SS/P, 5-10, 170, So.

Marc Maurelli, CF, 5-9, 160, Jr.

Outlook: Acevedo, DeSena and Johnson will be leaders on the mound. Maurelli, a lefty hitter with speed, will be an asset at the top of the lineup. Junior Matt Schmidt is expected to DH and hit in the middle of the order.

RIVERHEAD BLUE WAVES

Coach: Rob Maccone

2015 Record: 12-9

Key players

Joe Cunningham, P/OF, 5-9, 140, Sr.

D.J. Chandler, P/OF/1B, 6-2, 180, So.

Zach Giannuzzi, C/OF, 5-9, 200, Sr.

Scott Thompson, P/1B, 5-10, 160, So.

Mike McCormick, P/INF, 6-1, 200, Sr.

Outlook: The goal is to make playoffs, and newcomers Ryan Lull, Tommy Powers and Justin Clement are expected to contribute.

SMITHTOWN EAST BULLS

Coach: Ken Klee

2015 Record: 20-4

Key players

Shawn Kelly, CF, 5-9, 140, Sr.

Ryan Kuskowski, C, 6-2, 215, Sr.

John Marti, 3B, 5-11, 175, Sr.

Nick Rizzo, 2B/P, 5-9, 160, Sr.

Mike Ruggerio, SS/P, 5-11, 165, Jr.

Outlook: Arguably the top team in League III, Smithtown East has three players committed to playing in college – Kelly (SUNY Cortland), Kuskowski (NYIT) and Marti (Lafayette).

SMITHTOWN WEST BULLS

Coach: Al Nucci

2015 Record: 17-6

Key players

Nick Grande, SS/P, 5-11, 170, Sr.

Nick Trabacchi, 2B/P, 5-10, 175, Jr.

Jake Torres, CF, 5-8, 160, Jr.

Anthony Amato, 1B/P, 6-3, 175, Jr.

Mike Zito, LF/P, 5-10, 175, Sr.

Outlook: The entire starting rotation will look different than it did last season. Grande, Trabacchi and Torres have big expectations.

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