With a new position, a good deal of pressure and responsibility has been placed on Marco Pascale’s shoulders. Then again, it shouldn’t be anything that Pascale cannot handle. Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Rocco, one of the best hitters the Bishop McGann-Mercy baseball team had seen in its recent history, Marco has set about blazing his own path and making his own name for himself.
Rocco Pascale graduated from the Riverhead Catholic school two years ago, not before turning in a remarkable senior season in which he led McGann-Mercy to a Long Island Class C championship. His numbers that season were staggering: a .588 batting average, a .702 on-base percentage, seven home runs, 39 runs batted in, nine doubles, three triples. No wonder he was selected the League VIII most valuable player.
“He was the most clutch hitter I think I’ve had,” McGann-Mercy coach Ed Meier said. “The bigger the moment, the more likely he was to come through, and with power. Unless you threw 85 [miles an hour] or above, there was no way to get him out.”
The Monarchs were so loaded with talent in that 2011 season that there wasn’t room for young Marco Pascale, who had to wait until last year to make his varsity entrance as a freshman. Illness and injury (tendinitis in his right throwing shoulder) cost Pascale several games, but when he was healthy he was in the lineup.
Pascale, speaking in an interview during a break in Monday’s practice, said his shoulder feels better than ever now. That should come in handy for his new job. Pascale had been a first baseman or third baseman all of his baseball life — until this spring, that is. McGann-Mercy’s plan to play Kurt Bahnke at shortstop had to be amended after Bahnke suffered a torn labrum and was moved to second base. That meant the Monarchs needed a shortstop, and Pascale was turned to as the answer.
Although Pascale had not played the position before and is hardly a prototypical shortstop, Meier said the sophomore brings quick feet, a strong arm and a good glove to the position. The rest of the infield has Christian Lynch or Ray Ellis at first base, and Greg Gehring at third.
Pascale made a good showing for himself in McGann-Mercy’s season-opening Suffolk County League VIII series in which the Monarchs were swept by Center Moriches, 9-1 last Wednesday, and 6-5 and 9-2 on Saturday. In addition to playing shortstop in all three games, Pascale went 3 for 7 with two RBI and three doubles against the Red Devils, who are considered to have one of the top pitching staffs in the league.
“I felt like I played well, but in the end it’s about getting the win, not about me,” said Pascale.
Pascale, who bats third in the order, credits Lynch for providing protection behind him. “I’m getting pitches to hit, thanks to him,” said Pascale.
Pascale bears a strong resemblance to his brother, just not in the batter’s box. In contrast to Rocco, who had an unorthodox swing that worked for him, Marco has a much more traditional swing that Meier called “textbook.”
Meier said the result is the same: “They can both just hit.”
Asked for an explanation for the different hitting styles, Marco said: “I guess different coaching over the years. I’d go to certain guys and he’d go to other guys.”
How do the two brothers get along?
“On the field, great,” Marco said. “Off the field …” He didn’t finish the sentence, leaving the impression that like many brothers, they have their issues from time to time.
Marco said he listens to advice from Rocco, such as looking at a lot of pitches and waiting for a good one. “Obviously, he’s had a lot of success, so whatever he can give me, I’ll take that from him,” said Marco.
Marco said he likes it that baseball is a thinking game. “It’s all mental, you know,” he said. “It challenges you to think and make good decisions.”
These days Marco is devoting a lot of his thinking to learning how to play shortstop.
“It’s something new, I’ll tell you that,” he said. “You got to be a leader out there. I’m still a sophomore. Guys like Lynch have been on the team for three years. I really have to step up and start being a leader.”