John Mastropietro was all set to retire as a Little League baseball coach.
Mastropietro couldn’t find the time to give the volunteer position as a coach in the Secaucus Little League his proper attention, so he was prepared to walk away.
Then, Mastropietro realized one thing: The special camaraderie that the Secaucus 14-to-16-year-old All-Stars possessed.
“I’ve been involved with coaching for a long time,” said Mastropietro, a Hudson Catholic grad and a product of the old Jersey City Stars of Tomorrow program that was headed by local baseball legends Harvey Zucker and the late Ed “Faa” Ford.
“I decided to come back and coach this year because of this group,” Mastropietro said about the Secaucus Senior Little League All-Stars. “It’s a special group. I remember saying to other coaches, ‘Let’s see what we can do.’”
Well, the team not only captured the District 7 championship three weeks ago, but they added the Section 2 title last week. Secaucus defeated Hoboken, 11-2, to win the District 7 title, then moved on to the Section 2 tournament (held fortunately at Kane Stadium in Secaucus, giving the locals a little home field advantage), where Secaucus defeated Fort Lee in the championship game, also by an 11-2 final score.
“You always go into the season with high hopes,” Mastropietro said. “But I didn’t think we could be this successful. Winning both the district and section is a lot to ask of these kids. They have to play a lot of baseball in such a short amount of time. This has been the most remarkable success I’ve enjoyed as a coach.”
The Secaucus team is blessed with a talented pitching staff.
Leading the way is right-hander Matt Deleo.
“He has good control,” Mastropietro said of Deleo. “He works both sides of the plate, which gives him good location. He’s also able to go deep into the game.”
Even at the Senior Little League level, there is a strict pitch count that the pitchers have to follow, so if Deleo is throwing strikes, he’s able to stay in games longer.
William DeIasi, who enjoyed a breakthrough season with the Secaucus High School team in the spring, is another of the team’s pitchers. DeIasi is another right-hander.
“He has good velocity,” Mastropietro said of DeIasi. “He’s been throwing hard ever since I had him as a 10-year-old. He pounds the strike zone. He also has good off-speed pitches.”
John Young is another right-hander.
“I think his best attribute is his ability to close out games,” Mastropietro said of Young. “He also has good velocity. We’ve asked a lot of John the last three weeks and he’s responded very well.”
The team’s catcher is Dean Costantino, one of two Costantinos on the squad.
“Dean is a good catcher,” Mastropietro said. “I think he’s still developing. He’s going to be even better. He receives the ball well and he’s become much stronger. He’s an integral part of this team.”
Sean Moulghney is another catcher.
“I like the way he commands the pitching staff,” Mastropietro said. “He frames the pitches well.”
The first baseman is Myles Pino.
“He’s a very big part of our lineup,” Mastropietro said. “He hits the ball hard. He has good power and plays a very good first base.”
The second baseman is usually Mark Dehnert, another key member of the Secaucus High School team.
“Mark is an excellent fielder,” Mastropietro said. “He can play multiple positions. Wherever we need him, Mark goes. He’s also very knowledgeable about the game.”
The shortstop duties are shared by DeIasi and Dehnert, with Young manning third base. Mastropietro likes the way Young swings the bat.
“He’s an excellent hitter and a key part of our lineup,” Mastropietro said.
Joe Leon is the main fixture in left field.
“He’s a good situational hitter,” Mastropietro said. “He plays wherever we ask him to go.”
The centerfielder is Secaucus High School’s excellent multi-sport athlete Jamling Lama.
“He does a lot for us,” Mastropietro said. “The team goes how he goes. They all seem to follow Jamling.”
The main right fielder is Dominick Polifornio, who “has good knowledge of the game and gets good angles to the ball,” Mastropietro said.
The team also features Luke Fornier, a pitcher/infielder/outfielder; Alex Costantino, Dean’s brother, who plays first base and the outfield; Jacob Ruiz, another utility player; Daniel O’Connor, a second baseman; Zander Orlando, another pitcher/infielder/outfielder and Matt Marcelia, a first baseman/designated hitter.
The Secaucus All-Stars moved on to the overall state championship in East Vineland, where they were slated to face Randolph in the first round.
“We have a great team,” Mastropietro said. “We are facing towns and teams that are much bigger. That makes it difficult. But we’re ready to go to battle with anyone.”…
EXTRA INNINGS focuses on the best stories that come from local baseball and softball leagues throughout the area, from Little League action through travel leagues.
If you have any noteworthy information to contribute to the EXTRA INNINGS, feel free to contact Jim Hague by phone at 201-303-5792 or via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com.
The e-mail would be the best way of getting in touch.
Please include a telephone contact name and number, in order to secure further information for a possible story. Also, if you have a picture to be used with the story, that would be a great help….–Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com