By Josh Thomson
POMONA Nearly two years had passed since Provident Bank Park opened in June 2011 to rave reviews. For most of the baseball players in Rockland County, the wait to step on the area’s most pristine diamond had been interminable.
Only a handful of high school games had been played here before Thursday night. That was rectified this weekend thanks to a partnership between the county’s 11 schools and the Town of Ramapo. The park hosted nine games over four days, climaxing with a quadrupleheader on a brisk but sun-splashed Sunday.
“It was good that they finally got it right and got us on the field,” said Pearl River junior Kevin Considine, who tossed five innings of one-run ball to beat North Rockland 2-1 Sunday. “It has been a few years and the Boulders don’t start up again until June. It’s just sitting here, and we have some pretty baseball going on here in Rockland County.”
Nyack athletic director Joe Sigillo and the Town of Ramapo’s director of parks and recreation Michelle Antosca organized the event. Sigillo and the county’s other athletic directors set it in motion last June as something of a rebirth of county tournaments past. Games were scheduled to pit opponents against one another based on where they finished in their league last season. Albertus Magnus and East Ramapo each played once and the other eight teams played twice each.
More games are scheduled at Provident Bank this season, including the championship of Clarkstown South’s loaded Northeast Elite tournament and the annual wood bat game between North Rockland and Suffern.
Of course, the weekend was also something of a dry run for the sectional finals. The park will host all of the championship games for the first time.
“It’s a great place to play,” said Clarkstown South coach Vinny Michello with a wink. “I hope we’re back here for the sectional finals.”
South senior John Kukura led his team to a pair of wins this weekend, including a 12-6 victory over Nyack Sunday. He went 4 for 4 with four runs scored, a double and two triples, thriving in
“We played under the lights Thursday. Under the lights here, seeing all the fans, the announcers, it seemed like more of an important game,” Kukura said. “It’s the regular season so every game is important, but it just made the level of intensity rise. We wanted to do well.”
The coaches hope the nascent partnership with the Boulders continues. They have already hosted events there, and several schools in the county have coordinated trips to Boulders’ games as fundraisers in their communities.
“I think it’s a win-win for the Boulders and for our players,” Pearl River coach Bruce Miller said. “It’s a great experience for the kids to be playing here. We’re going to host the sectional finals here as well and for the Boulders to get more people out to play here, hopefully it will draw more people to their games.”
Judging by their experience, the players and coaches of Rockland will be among those flooding back.
“I don’t think there are many minor league baseball parks in the country that are as gorgeous as this one,” Sigillo said. “For a 16, 17, 18-year old to be able to step out on this field is something they’ll remember for a lifetime.”
Here are Sunday’s results:
Byram Hills 6, Saunders 2: In the championship game the Christian Federico tournament at Ossining, Jared Feldman went 2 for 2 with three RBI en route to tournament MVP honors. Kellen Hathaway added two RBI. Armend Pushka was also named to the all-tournament team. Jake Diaz went 3 for 4 with an RBI for the Blue Devils.
Clarkstown North 8, Nanuet 5: At Provident Bank Park, Robert Donnelly went 2 for 3 with two RBI. Matt Martin went 2 for 3 with an RBI for the Rams, who scored six runs in the first inning. Matt Dillon went 2 for 4 with two RBI.
Pearl River 2, North Rockland 1: At Provident Bank Park, Kevin Considine allowed two hits over five innings for the win. Mike Murphy earned a two-inning save. Chris Flood had three hits for the Pirates.
Tappan Zee 4, Suffern 3: At Provident Bank Park Saturday, Jeremy Dobbs had two RBI for the Dutchmen. Chris Gagnani went 2 for 3 with an RBI for the Mounties.
Briarcliff 18, LEAP Academy (N.J.) 0, 6: At LEAP Academy in Camden, N.J., Chris Marinaccio stuck out nine and did not allow a hit in five innings. Matt Pasternak struck out two in an inning of relief for the combined no-hitter. Spencer Kulman went 3 for 3 with three RBI. Rob Contento added a three-run double.