Most teams would be happy to end the season three games above .500 at 14-11. Most would be content to make the conference playoffs while for others, to lose in said playoffs to a team that eventually played in the NCAA East Regional Tournament. The Queens College Knights baseball team is not most teams. The Knight News recently sat down with Knights head coach Chris Reardon and some of his players to discuss how they view last year’s playoff loss and the outlook for this year.
“We took a little beating there,” Coach Reardon said about last year’s playoff loss to the St. Thomas Aquinas Spartans. “Does that give them [the players] extra motivation? I don’t know, but just getting there though isn’t good enough right now. We’ve been there two years in a row after not being there for… so long. We’ve established that we’re going to be a playoff team. We’ve established that we’re going to be a winning team above .500 every year. Now you have to get past that point, we have to win in the playoffs now.”
Garnering a roster with both grizzled veterans and younger players, the team believes they have a great mix of talent at every position no matter the age. Captain Dylan Hughes relayed this sentiment. “Even already through the first four games, those younger players have excelled so far. Our second baseman Marc Cisco had a great weekend, he got Rookie of the Week for the East Coast Conference (ECC), so he’s gonna be really good for us this year. We’re very excited for the younger players, but we also have a good core of older players that gives us a good depth between young and old.”
The Knights started the season on a weekend trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where they went 3-1 and put up an astounding 42 runs during that stretch. “We put up a lot of runs in four games, 42 runs or whatever it was. The offense is a well-balanced lineup, you got speed, you got power. You got guys having good at-bats, getting on base and not just hitting the ball… drawing walks and being disciplined at the plate,” Coach Reardon said about the facet of his team that stood out the most in Myrtle Beach. “We have some great arms on this team, but if we’re going to hit the way we did this past weekend, there’s a good reason to be very optimistic.”
Not only did the Knights do well in Palmetto State, some individuals had career-defining moments. As previously mentioned, second baseman Cisco received his first award in a collegiate uniform, but he wasn’t the only Knight to get a weekly ECC award. Junior outfielder Jayson Rodopoulos received the ECC Player of the Week after going 9-for-17 at the plate, recording five runs, one double, one triple, two home runs, seven RBIs, a walk, and two stolen bases.
However, one moment stands above the rest. After blasting a shot to the right-field fence, captain infielder Louis Antos became the all-time hits record holder in school history with 161 hits. “It’s fun watching him. He’s so talented. He’s so smart now… he gets it. He’s really good with our younger guys and that means a lot to us,” Coach Reardon said of his star player.
The Knights returned back home to Queens, and held a three-game series with the Bloomfield College Bears. They ended up losing two out of the three games, but there were some bright spots. Namely: Cisco extending his hit-streak to seven games, and the Knights giving up only 14 runs in comparison to 37 back down in South Carolina. The Knights also hosted Post University, who they beat twice in Myrtle Beach, and took care of business yet again, 6-3.
Despite the plateau the team endured when playing back in the 718, it wouldn’t be surprising if optimism ran high in the locker room. After all, both Hughes and fellow captain Rob Backus showed extreme confidence in their team. “Electric. I think we’re electric. We have some guys this year that can really swing the bat, and we have guys that can throw the ball hard. I think we’re going to have a good amount of home runs, a good amount of strikeouts, that makes our games a lot more exciting,” Hughes said grinning. “If we can get the crowd out to our games, they won’t be disappointed.” Backus took that optimistic stance even further. When asked about what he most looks forward to this season, the right-handed pitcher was straight forward. “Winning a championship. That’s what I look forward to because I think we can get it done this year.”
The Knights currently have a 5-3 record and will host Franklin Pierce University (5-5) on Friday at 3pm with a doubleheader slated for noon and 3pm on Saturday.
The highlight video and all photos are republished courtesy of the Athletic Department.