PURCHASE, N.Y. Keio baseball coach Rocky Pasquale said before the season he expected this to be the strangest year of his coaching career.
With just three games left until the playoffs, he realized just how clairvoyant he was.
Pasquale has a young roster that has had to learn on the fly for most of the year. Despite that, the Unicorns defeated Section 1 powerhouse Briarcliff Friday night and then beat Rye Neck the following afternoon. On Monday, Rye Neck got revenge on Keios home field.
All of this has shown Pasquale that his comments before the season were right on the mark.
When I look at the competition, it seems that, and I know this and a lot of the coaches know it, that anyone is beatable on any given day, Pasquale said.
Keio is 10-5 with only a handful of games until the playoffs begin. Pasquale expected pitching to be Keios strength this season, and his starters, led by Kento Suga and Takumi Yokoyama, have proven him right. The teams ERA is well below 2.00, and the pitchers have given up an incredibly low 17 walks in 14 games.
Conversely, Keios outfield has been its weakest point. Pasquale said the Unicorns style has exacerbated that issue.
If our pitchers are going to throw strikes, were going to have to play defense, Pasquale said. And our pitchers throw strikes.
The season has not been without epiphanies, as two freshmen on the roster have pleasantly surprised Pasquale. First baseman Riku Kawada and pitcher Yuya Morita have developed nicely as the season has progressed.
Pasquale said time was all they needed.
We know those guys are ballplayers and we really need them to extend the lineup, Pasquale said. They had a little bit of a slow start, and understandably so, but theyre starting to come on now and we need that. We need to get that lineup instead of those first four guys, we got to extend that lineup to six or seven.
Keio has a chance to win the league, but Pasquale is more focused on building momentum in the final three games of the regular season.
If we play good baseball, we most likely or hopefully would win, and then reach that goal of winning the league, Pasquale said. You really want to be playing your best baseball going into the playoffs and thats what Im looking for.
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