The Beauty of the Game
By Jorge Hernandez
The 2008 Division III season proved memorable for the Bergen County Community College (BCC) baseball team. Besides having its first winning season and playoff birth in more than 25 years, Bergen CC beat three nationally ranked teams, Brookdale CC, Gloucester CC and Suffolk Grant (New York) CC. Both Gloucester and Suffolk qualified for the NJCAA World Series this year.
The Bergen CC baseball team ranked 7th in the nation in batting average with a team BA of .361 and 19th in winning percentage, going 15-9 for the season.
Top Row: 3rd yr Head Coach Jorge Hernandez; Asst. Coach: Derek Rosefield; #22 Mario Velez; #32 Mark Balbach;
#30 Steve Caracena; #49 Mike Horn; #11 Marty Mirkovic; #9 Tony Campanelli; Asst. Coach: Steve Mimms
Second Row: #17 Matt Royland; #3 Erick Golomb; #2 Mike Cassese; #24 Tim Swift SS; #18 Pedro Ruiz; #12 James Kondel
Bottom Row: #21 Jose Padilla; #1 Brian Ferreiras; #4 Dom Malanga; #5 Justin Coca; #75 Gerard Baratta
Steve Caracena, 1B/DH, from West New York's Memorial High School, will return his hot bat to the lineup in Spring 2009. Steve batted .487 which was 7th in the nation in Division III. He also had 10 doubles and 28 RBI's and he led the team in many other offensive categories. Bergen CC’s most improved player from the Fall ‘07 season, Steve received 2nd team All Garden State Athletic Conference and All Region honors as an infielder.
Jose Padilla, C/OF from Bergenfield, played two positions throughout the season as catcher and centerfielder and posted impressive stats. In his freshman year, he batted .392 (20-51), with 4 doubles, 1 triple and 14 RBI. Padilla will return for the 2009 season, and Bergen CC could not be happier about that.
Dom Malanga, P/OF from Belleville, in his second season at Bergen CC had a .414 batting average (29-70), with 11 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR and 13 RBI. He was also the team's closer with a 1.92 ERA and 8 strikeouts in only 9.1 innings pitched, logging 2 wins for the team in the process. Bergen CC will miss Malanga, a hard-nosed competitor, who hopes to continue his baseball career at a four-year college after leaving Bergen CC.
Mark Balbach, P from Belleville, laid claim to being Bergen CC’s ace on the hill, posting a 5-2 record in his first season. Three of his wins came the hard way versus nationally ranked Brookdale CC, Gloucester CC and Suffolk Grant CC. Mark posted a 3.65 era, with 27 K's in 44.1 innings pitched. Balbach looks forward to returning for another successful season in ‘09.
Mike Cassese, another freshman from Belleville, anchored third base for the Bulldogs. He played a solid third base throughout the ‘08 season, and had just as good a season at the plate with a .359 batting average (33-92), 33 hits, 6 doubles, 1 triple and 12 RBI. Cassese will probably start at shortstop in ‘09.
James Kondel, 2B from Wallington, contributed a .412 batting average (35-85), with 9 doubles, 1 triple and 17 RBI. A top hitter on the team, Kondel led the team to many wins, both with his bat and his glove. James, whose father is currently the head coach at Wallington HS, will take his timely hitting and outstanding glove work to a four- year school in ‘09.
Brian Ferreiras, OF from Saddle Brook, opened the ‘08 season as a pinch runner and designated hitter. When opportunity came knocking for him in left field, though, he earned the starting job there for the rest of the season. As leadoff batter, he posted a .293 batting average, and in the field he made several game saving catches throughout the season. Ferreiras plans to return for his second season at Bergen CC and continue contributing to a growing program.
Mike Horn from Oradell, played first base throughout the season. He had very good stats that contributed to the team's success. He batted .387 (24-62), with 1 triple and 15 RBI as a Freshman. Horn will bring his clutch hitting to the 2009 season.
Gerard Baratta, LHP from Emerson, proved to be the Bulldogs’ most consistent pitcher, with 2 wins, an ERA of 2.70 and 27 Ks in 40 innings pitched, and 1 save. He will return to the ‘09 Bulldogs to contend for the #1 starter position on the mound.