By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Ask Butch Servideo and the veteran Lyndhurst head baseball coach and athletic director will certainly tell you. He’s been pretty blessed over the years.
No need to mention the 2008 dream season that culminated with the Group I state championship. That year is somewhat in the rearview mirror these days.
But Servideo has been fortunate to have a competitive and winning squad for each of the last 15 years, including last year, when his Golden Bears won 21 games.
“We had a good year,” Servideo said.
However, the affable Lyndhurst coach finds himself in a bit of a dilemma these days.
“We lost our top three pitchers who also played first, second and shortstop when they didn’t pitch,” Servideo said. “We lost our catcher. We lost six position players to graduation, six players who could play multiple positions. We certainly lost a lot.”
So it means that the Golden Bears will have to rebuild, almost starting from scratch.
“I think we’ll still be okay,” Servideo said. “We lost a lot of experience on the mound, but I like what I see so far.”
Leading the Golden Bears pitching corps is senior Max Hart, who showed a lot of promise last year when he won three out of four decisions. Hart is a tall, strong hurler who could be the Golden Bears’ ace this season.
Another pitcher is junior Anthony Polito, who won two games last year. Both Hart and Polito are right-handed pitchers.
Junior Danny Tallent may live up to his name, because he does have talent.
“He was our top pitcher on the junior varsity last year,” Servideo said.
Sophomore Nolan Kelly, who got a taste of varsity baseball last year, has a ton of potential and promise. Kelly, another righty, will fit nicely into the Golden Bears’ rotation.
The last two pitchers are senior Nick Galvez, the football standout, who has come back out for baseball, and sophomore Jordan Lopez, who was the Bergen County bowling champion in the winter, tossing a perfect game. Maybe Lopez can do the same and pitch a perfect game in baseball.
“Galvez is going to give us innings and Jordan Lopez can throw the ball,” Servideo said. “We definitely have a lot of pitchers.”
The starting catcher is senior Austin Meeney, who played the backup role last season, but got a chance to play. Meeney will also serve as a designated hitter.
“I think he’s going to be very good,” Servideo said. “We need that behind the plate, because where we play (the new facility behind the recreation center), we have a huge area between home plate and the backstop. We need to develop catchers.”
The first base duties will be shared by Hart and converted outfielder Bobby DeMarco, who was the starting right fielder last year.
“Bobby has the athletic ability to be moved around,” Servideo said of DeMarco, who will also see time at third base.
Another possible first baseman is junior Patrick Dennehey, who will definitely see time.
Senior Mike Perry is the new starting second baseman. Perry played some last season.
The shortstop is junior Frank DeLeva, who has shown a ton of promise in the preseason.
“He’s very smooth,” Servideo said. “He’s gotten bigger, stronger and faster and that comes from him wrestling over the winter. He never wrestled before, but he picked up the sport so well. I think that has helped him in terms of baseball. I expect good things from him.”
The third base duties are being shared by DeMarco, Hart and sophomore Brandon Karlok, who has a world of potential.
Senior Marcus Brandon, a starter in left field last season, returns there. Brandon is the Golden Bears’ top returning hitter.
Junior Sergio Terrelli is the starter in centerfield. Servideo thinks that Terrelli can be the Golden Bears’ best defensive outfielder.
DeMarco could return to right field, if the others hold the fort in the infield. If not, then senior Peter Zeoli gets the first crack of playing right field.
Servideo said that he will move players in and out at designated hitter, depending on who pitches.
“I can move Hart to DH if needed,” Servideo said. “Tallent is a good lefty hitter.”
Servideo said that the Golden Bears are looking forward to their trip to Florida, which begins Wednesday. Lyndhurst raised money to go to Fort Pierce, Florida, for six days and the Golden Bears will get five scrimmages in there against teams from all over the country.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for us,” Servideo said. “We’ll be right outside Port St. Lucie, so we might be able to catch the Mets while we’re there. The weather has been so nasty here. The trip to Florida can’t come quick enough so we can get out and play.”
That’s what this Golden Bear team needs – some experience and playing time together.
“We’re a work in progress,” Servideo said. “I’m really looking forward to go to Florida so we can get a better feel of what we have. We’ll have a lot of instruction and get some practice in and we get to play some good games. It should be good for us.”
The Golden Bears open up the 2013 season against Dwight-Englewood April 1.
“Our league is very competitive and we’re playing much better teams,” Servideo said. “I think we have potential, but we have no real varsity pitchers back. We have to see what happens.”