After having much success in Class C, the East Rockaway Rocks are eager to bring their success from last year into this season as they move up to Class B. The Rocks put themselves in a good spot, as they only graduated one senior in 2018. One of the key factors In 2019 that will lead to the Rocks success is they made a playoff run and gained valuable experience in 2018; losing to Wheatley for the Conference Championship, defeating Pierson/Bridgehampton in the LIC, defeating Pine Plains in the Regional, before finally losing to Ticonderoga in the NYS Final 4. East Rockaway returns 12 of 14 Varsity Players and are poised to make some noise in Class B.
The East Rockaway Rocks will have no shortage of arms and will have one of the best pitching staffs in the class. Rocks’ pitching staff include Stefano Cilluffo, a senior pitcher who went 6-1 last year, having that one loss come from the NYS Final 4 in Binghamton. Cilluffo is notorious for having a nasty curveball, making it tough for hitters to keep their balance. Another pitcher to look for in the East Rockaway pitching staff is Dan DelValle. As he approaches his senior season, Head Coach James Hickey believes that DelValle will have a career year, as he was impressed by DelValle improving after each season. Aidan O’Connor will also be another player to look out for. Going into his junior year, who has just transferred from Kellenberg, O’Connor looks forward to continue his dominance with his plus fastball and plus curveball. Another junior pitcher Chris Perri looks to help the Rocks win critical games. He has definitely matured a lot in his skills from his sophomore year, as the mop-up left-handed reliever pitched well out of the bullpen to then some of the most critical moments of the season. Perri earned a start in the Regional Championship, where he went the distance for the victory.
For the Rocks, they are also known for having a strong lineup. Stefano Cilluffo also makes this list with one of the more dangerous bats in the Rocks lineup. The All-County recipient shows his all-around game at the plate, as he recorded at least 20 RBIs, runs, and stolen bases. Dylan Henshaw, another All-County recipient, also recorded 20 RBIs, runs, and stolen bases. Bryan Morgenthaler looks to be an issue for pitchers having tremendous speed and is a fierce competitor, Dan DelValle has some quick hands with pop, that can change a game quickly.
For Coach Hickey, like many other coaches, he believes the game of baseball is a team sport, not individual. “It’s really hard to choose one guy either way because we have a lot of impactful players on the roster. I truly believe the whole senior class are MVPs.” For the East Rockaway Rocks’ 2019 senior class, they are a group of players who have been playing in JV since 8th grade and moving up to Varsity two years later. “After having much experience in the varsity level, they have made a tremendous impact on the program that will be felt for many years to come after their graduation.”
You might want to stay tuned for their series with Wheatley. Coach Hickey has acknowledged their strong and consistent baseball program, poses a great challenge for them; Wheatley will be having their whole starting rotation returning for 2019. In 2018, Wheatley not only defeated East Rockaway in their last regular season game, but also claimed the League B/C regular season title. The Rocks continued to suffer more woes from Wheatley, as they also lost to them in the B/C Championship game in 15 innings, taking over 5 hours.
East Rockaway should be an entertaining team to watch, as they all have the pieces to win the county championship. East Rockaway and Wheatley may meet in the championship in 2019 once again.