Jordan Demchuk said he thought he would get a chance to prove himself last season, and he did.
As a rookie on the Riverhead High School baseball team last year, Demchuk didn’t begin the season as the starting first baseman, but he finished the season in that position. Demchuk was given a start in the second series of the season, and he proceeded to make the position his for the rest of the year. That leaves one less question mark for the Blue Waves to answer as they prepare for this coming season.
“There was a point where we couldn’t really take him out of the lineup,” said Coach Rob Maccone, who has coached Demchuk for four straight years, the first two at the junior varsity level. “He is a big kid. He drives the ball well. … Offensive-wise, 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh, he’ll come through for you.”
The 6-foot-2 senior posted a .303 batting average, a .410 on-base percentage and drove in five runs last season.
“I thought that I had a fair chance at it to start,” Demchuk said during an interview in the Riverhead dugout on Friday. “When I got my chance, then I did well.”
Maccone said the Blue Waves will lean heavily on Demchuk, Jon Tucci, Rob Pisano and James Porco for offense.
Demchuk saw the difference between junior varsity and varsity baseball last year, better pitching, for one thing. “On JV there’s a lot more fastballs, a lot less location,” he said.
Demchuk will also do some pitching of his own as a reliever who can handle an inning or two. Maccone said Demchuk struggled on the mound a bit last year, but throws a hard fastball and is working on a breaking ball.
Demchuk is a right-handed thrower and hitter, which is unusual for a first baseman. But he said not being left-handed doesn’t make too big a difference when he’s fielding. Maccone said Demchuk can still turn the double play.
First base is a familiar position for Demchuk. He has played first since he was in Little League. “If you play any position for six or seven years, you know what to do in any situation,” he said.
Demchuk has learned other things, too. Although the Blue Waves had talent last year, he saw the team go 9-11 and fail to qualify for the playoffs. “Even if you have all the talent, if your team can’t pull together, then you’re not going to be successful,” he said.
As one of Riverhead’s three returning starters along with Tucci, an all-league second baseman, and Porco, a catcher, what is the best advice Demchuk can offer to his younger teammates?
“Try not to be that nervous,” he said. “You can’t always hit a home run, you always can’t field every ball. If you mess up, just do your best to get back into it. Don’t lose focus.”