The Hudson Catholic baseball team will look to improve on last year’s 16-8 record, thanks to a talented senior class.
“We had a lot of juniors last year,” said third-year head coach Alberto Vasquez. “The experience definitely helps coming into this year. We have the older guys now teaching the younger guys. It’s a good mix, because it’s like we have coaches on the field. It’s always good to have experience.”
The top returnee is senior right-handed pitcher Brandon Pilovsky, who exploded on the local scene last year after transferring from Seton Hall Prep. Pilovsky won six games last year, displaying a wide variety of pitches, earning Hudson Reporter All-Area honors in the process.
“Every time he gets the ball, we pretty much have a good chance to win,” Vasquez said. “We always think that Brandon is going to get the win for us. We know he’s going to be that stopper that you need. He’s definitely bigger and stronger than he was last year. He’s in a lot better shape. I think he’s throwing it harder. He definitely did a lot of work on his body in the offseason.”
There’s no doubt that Pilovsky will be pitching at the major college level next year.
The Hawks have a deep pitching staff. Junior Chris Garcia returns. The right-hander won three games last year and had some clutch performances.
“He pitched pretty well for us last year,” Vasquez said. “He’s looked good in the preseason. He has good control.”
Senior Victor Guzman is another returning pitcher for the Hawks. Guzman will be as good of a No. 3 pitcher you will find in Hudson County this season.
Sophomore Joseph Albunia has shown a lot of promise. Albunia is another right-hander.
Senior Kevin Suarez is another returning hurler.
“We definitely have pitching,” Vasquez said. “We just have to be able to mix it up a little, throw one kid for three or four innings, then bring another one in. I have confidence in all the pitchers. They can throw strikes. I have confidence to throw them against anybody.”
The catcher is senior Ralph Mena, who was the backup backstop last year. Mena saw some time as a designated hitter last year.
The first base duties are being shared by senior Michael Albunia, Joseph’s older brother, and promising freshman Andrew Troya.
The second baseman is returning starter Matt Falotico, who was the Hawks’ leadoff hitter last year.
“He has quick hands and a good arm,” Vasquez said. “He’s a good fielder. He also gets on base a lot.”
The shortstop is Garcia, who was the team’s third baseman last year. Garcia will play a huge role in the Hawks’ success this season.
The third baseman is freshman Gabe Tosado, who Vasquez has no problem playing right away.
“He’s a very good player,” Vasquez said. “He’s probably our fifth or sixth hitter in the order.”
The centerfielder is returning starter Matt Bolger, a senior.
“He had a good season last year,” Vasquez said. “He fought back at the end of last season to produce for us. I think he’s doing a great job so far this year.”
The left fielder is junior Rob Shivers.
Right field duties are being shared by Guzman and others. Returning starter Mike Simone, a senior, underwent back surgery recently and he’s out indefinitely.
“The surgery went well and he’s starting to swing the bat again,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez likes the fact that youngsters like Tosado and Joseph Albunia are making their mark with the varsity right away.
“It’s good to have young players you can develop,” Vasquez said. “Tosado is going to play everywhere, short, third, even pitch. I like giving them a chance to play.”
The Hawks opened their season Tuesday against Bayonne.
“I feel good about the mix of players we have,” Vasquez said. “I’m happy with the direction we’re going. The only thing we’re missing is better senior leadership. Our seniors have to step up now and be leaders. We’re going to have a very good season if we can get that.”
Count on the Hawks being in the mix until the last week of May. Having Pilovsky on the staff certainly insures that. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.