Baseball Preview: Mercy takes winning mentality into new league, new class

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy players jumped into the pond beyond their left-field fence after winning the Suffolk County Class C title last year.

If there is a high school baseball team with a winning mentality, it’s Bishop McGann-Mercy. The Monarchs are built to win, and to win now.

“These guys know how to win,” said coach Ed Meier.

McGann-Mercy (17-6 last season) won the Long Island Class C championship last year before losing to the eventual state champion, Tuckahoe, in a regional final.

A winning mentality should also help McGann-Mercy take on new challenges this year. The Monarchs will compete in a new league (Suffolk County League VII) as well as a new class (Class B).

Although McGann-Mercy no longer has the big bat swung by Rocco Pascale, last year’s League VIII most valuable player, it still has a lot of talent.

First and foremost is Pat Stepnoski, the senior in his fifth year on the team, all as a starter. Stepnoski, an all-league choice in 2011, is the team’s No. 1 pitcher and center fielder. Meier agreed to the suggestion that Stepnoski could be considered among the greatest Monarchs of all time.

Stepnoski already looks ready for the season. In a scrimmage against North Babylon, he threw a one-hitter through five innings and hit a 400-foot home run into someone’s yard. In another scrimmage versus Riverhead, “he couldn’t have played a better center field,” said Meier.

“He should have a big year,” the coach added. “Unfortunately, his name is carrying a lot of weight, too. He’s not going to see the pitching as if he was a 10th-grader.”

In addition, the team boasts three all-league players in shortstop/second baseman Keith Schroeher, shortstop/pitcher Joe Crosser and pitcher J. T. De Scalo. All three are seniors. The starting pitching rotation of Stepnoski, De Scalo and Crosser remains intact.

Owen Gilpin, a senior left fielder, and two juniors, first baseman/pitcher Christian Lynch and catcher Tony Mercuri, were also part of the lineup last year.

Two senior middle infielders, Willie Jacobs and Connor Galvin, are also returning players.

Rocco Pascale is no longer on the team, but his younger brother is. Marco Pascale can play third base or first base. He joins the squad along with third baseman Ray Ellis and outfielder Mario Burriesci.

In League VII, McGann-Mercy will play each of the other five league teams — Babylon, Center Moriches, Hampton Bays, Mattituck and Southampton — four times. They are all Class B teams.

“It should be interesting,” Meier said. “This is a big change for us. Moving up a league, we’re the new kids on the block. We don’t really know teams, teams don’t know us.”

Although Meier said he believes the Monarchs can be competitive, he isn’t about to sell the competition short. “The question mark is not so much us as what the other teams are going to bring,” he said. “I think other teams are going to have deeper lineups than we’re used to, there’s not as many holes in the field, and they’re going to have more depth in pitching.”

Meier, who is in his ninth year coaching the team, is four wins away from his 100th career win. He takes a 96-64 record into the season.

For a season to be successful, the Monarchs need to end up in the pond beyond their left-field fence. Taking a dive into the pond is their traditional celebration for winning a county title. Said Meier, “Every year you hope.”

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