Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Budding Stars

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Budding Stars

Article excerpt

EMERSON -- There were moments early in the season when it looked as if the Bergen Catholic baseball team was primed to do its best work in 2016.

The crummy March weather meant that new coach Bob Muggeo didn't get to do a lot of outdoor preseason work with his team. Rutgers- bound senior center fielder Mike Martinez, one of the best all- around players in North Jersey, has been sidelined all season.

Sure, there was a great collection of underclassmen, mostly sophomores, on the roster. Who knew what they could do, especially stepping into the high stakes world of North Non-Public A and the Big North United Division?

For openers, Muggeo did.

"Looking back at the preview I sent The Record, I did say that I thought we will be playing important games by the end of May," Muggeo said Saturday after the third-seeded Crusaders rallied to beat No. 6 River Dell, 4-3, in eight innings at Doc Sweeney Field in the Bergen County quarterfinals.

"We started the season 3-2, and now we're 20-5. Am I surprised by that? A little, but not that much."

That's because his sophomores have grown up fast in the last six weeks, and this collection of whiz kids certainly has earned a spot at the big-boy table in this county tournament.

August Samek is starting in left field. Dave LaManna, who had two hits and an RBI Saturday, has emerged as a solid No. 2 hitter and one of the better second basemen in North Jersey. Zach Dreznin has stepped up as a reliable starter.

But it was center fielder Vin Martin and pitcher Andrew Derubertis who really carried the sophomore class banner Saturday.

Derubertis came on in the fourth inning after senior ace Justin Salem, who had allowed one run and struck out 15 in 10 county innings, suddenly left the game with an apparent arm injury. Derubertis knew he was going to be first out of the bullpen and had all the time he needed to warm up, but the Golden Hawks still scored three runs to take a 3-0 lead.

But Derubertis, who lives in Pearl River, N. …

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