The East Hampton High School baseball team made the playoffs last year — for the first time since 2007 — and, despite the removal of one of its key pitchers, Maykell Guzman, to the Dominican Republic, the senior-heavy team can be expected to make them again this spring.
Ed Bahns, the head coach, and his assistant, Will Collins, are counting on their “core six,” all senior returnees, to lead the way.
“I think we’ll be competitive,” Collins said during a conversation over the weekend. “We’ve lost Rocky Point, Miller Place, Westhampton, and Sayville from our league, but Bayport, Mount Sinai, and John Glenn, all good teams, have moved in. I would guess that Shoreham-Wading River, which went 16-2 last year and had a lot of kids back, would be the team to beat.”
East Hampton’s pitching, said Collins, “ought to be pretty decent. We’re excited about Deilyn [Guzman, Maykell’s older brother] and A.J. [Bennett]. They’ve looked good in our scrimmages. And then there’s Michael Abreu [who was to start in the league opener at Amityville Monday] and Cameron [Yusko], who consistently throws strikes.”
The lineup is pretty much as it was last year, with Ryan Joudeh, the catcher, leading off, followed by Brandon Brophy, the left fielder, Guzman, the shortstop when he’s not pitching, Yusko, the third baseman, Bennett, the first baseman, and Abreu, the center fielder or shortstop depending on who’s pitching. All are seniors.
The seventh through ninth spots were, said Collins, “a bit up in the air. Brendan Hughes, a sophomore who’s up from the junior varsity and who is A.J.’s backup at first, probably will hit seventh, with Jimmy McMullan, a senior who seems to have the edge in the competition for second base, could bat eighth, and either Brady Yusko, a freshman who didn’t play last year, or Peter Vaziri, a junior up from the jayvee, will hit ninth.”
Others on the squad are Pete Shilowich, a sophomore up from the jayvee, whose pitching in a recent scrimmage with Pierson at Mashashimuet Park impressed Bahns and Collins; Riley McMahon, a junior who because of a shoulder problem that hampers his throwing will probably be limited to pinch-running; Andrew Rodriguez, a junior utility man who can play second, short, and third, and three other seniors, Russ Young, Mike Messemer, an outfielder who has a hamstring injury, and Fausto Mateo.
Last season, the team went 10-8 in league play (11-9 counting nonleaguers), and went 0-2 in the playoffs. “We’re counting on our seniors, who’ve had playoff experience, to provide us with the leadership we’ll need to get back to the playoffs again,” said Bahns, who added that “15 is a nice number to work with.”
“We’ll play 20 league games this year against five opponents,” said Collins, “starting off with single games against each of them followed by three-game series. . . . To make the playoffs we’ll have to finish above .500.”
Also of note, he said, is the fact that “the bats are different this year. They’re still aluminum, but they sound and hit like wood bats. Colleges used them last year, in response, I guess, to the injuries the livelier aluminum bats were causing. They’re the same weight, but I’m sure you’ll see far fewer home runs this year.”
He had thought, for instance, that a fly ball Guzman had hit to left at Mashashimuet Park the day of the East Hampton-Pierson scrimmage there “was gone, but the ball held up and their left fielder [Colman Vila] was able to catch Riley McMahon with his throw home.”