It wouldn’t be a stretch to say last year was the second best season in Queens College baseball history, as the Knights reached the ECC Championship for the first time since 1998 and won the second most games in a season in school history. Although they fell short of the conference crown, their success can not be denied.
The Knights took home three ECC season awards, as Head Coach Chris Reardon won Co-Coach of the Year while second baseman Marc Cisco won both Player and Rookie of the Year. This was the first time in school history that a Knight received any of those awards. However, Cisco added even more to his trophy case, as he took home consensus All-American honors from three associations (D2CCA, NCBWA, and ABCA/Rawlings) joining Justin Davies, who was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1998 MLB Draft, as the only Knights to earn any All-American selections. These awards for Cisco came as a result of his outstanding play, as he earned the ECC Triple Crown, leading the conference with a .435 batting average, 10 home runs, and 49 runs batted in; all of which place top three in a season in QC history.
Cisco’s first season at Queens College last year may well be the best in ECC history, depending on who you ask. But, one would imagine that it all may feel incomplete without the most important accolade — a conference championship; something that has eluded the Knights program since 1998. This season, Cisco and the rest of the Knights hope to end the 24-year championship drought. Coming second in the ECC preseason coaches’ poll, behind only Molloy University who has won back-to-back conference championships. However, coming in second in the preseason poll shows that Coach Reardon’s roster has the respect from the rest of the conference as a legitimate contender for the crown. It’s also worth noting that Cisco was voted as the Preseason Player of the Year which, at this point, is not a surprise.
Needless to say, it won’t be just the Marc Cisco show this season, as three returning Knights earned All-Conference honors last year. Outfielder Colin Diez made the First-Team in the utility spot, while first baseman Matt Filip and outfielder Jayson Rodopoulos made the Second-Team. Also on the roster this year are three All-Conference honorees from 2021: utilityman Reed Hoskins and left-handed pitchers Dean Fazah and Liam Pulipher.
The Knights offense will be led by the four-headed monster of Cisco, Filip, Diez, and Rodopoulos, but they have the support to back them up. The aforementioned Hoskins will look to bring his production back up to par with his freshman year, where he earned both All-ECC and All-Region honors. Behind the plate, returning catcher Nick Barreiros will continue his stellar defensive work in true ironman fashion, as he started all but five games last year. Junior catcher/designated hitter Teovaldo Estevez, catcher Mike Freda, and infielder Joseph Cornielle round out the returners.
Some sneaky additions to the roster may come in the form of transfers shortstop Francis Segarra and first baseman Anthony Fontana. Segarra earned First Team All-Region honors for the College of Southern Maryland Hawks last season, while Fontana was a member of the Hofstra University Lions team that made it to the NCAA Division I Regional in Chapel Hill, North Carolina last season. Both bring experience to this Knights team looking for an extra push to stop Molloy University’s reign of terror over the conference. Catcher Alex Zavala-Rios, who was a star player for Cardozo High School, returns home to Queens after a brief stint at Ulster County Community College. Freshmen infielder Andrew Ramirez, utilityman Joey Patane, outfielder/pitcher Jorsixt Jimenez complete the newcomers in the field.
The main difference on the roster this year is in the bullpen, as the Knights lost their ace Julien Arcos (who earned ECC First-Team honors last year), Rob Backus, and Dylan Hughes to graduation. The three of them combined for 42 percent of the innings pitched for the Knights last year and were credited with 12 out of the 26 victories. While Arcos is transitioning into a coaching position on the staff, his playing abilities will be missed. Aside from the two lefties mentioned earlier (Fazah and Pulipher), right-handed pitchers Danny Gargano and Jordan Sanabria are the main returners pitchers, with Johnnie Rodopoulos, Stephen Castro, Dante Interlandi, Blake Jefremow joining them. Nick Kozerski, from Nassau Community College, and Bryce Martino, from Hofstra, are the new transfers. Freshmen Christopher Naronis, Ben Nosovitch, and Christian Duarte round out the pitching staff.
Coach Reardon and his squad headed down to the Palmetto State to participate in the 2023 Myrtle Beach College Baseball Spring Training. The Knights went 2-2, splitting a doubleheader with Post University, defeating Chestnut Hill College, and losing to the defending East Region champions Southern New Hampshire University. The highlight of the trip came on Sunday, when Segarra hit for the cycle against Chestnut Hill. The transfer blasted a three-run homer in the eighth inning, solidifying himself as the first Knight to hit one out of the park. He finished the trip with a team-high seven hits and eight RBIs. Rodopoulos totaled five hits, one double, two RBIs, and three runs scored, while Hoskins had a team-high .444 average with four hits, two doubles, and two RBIs. Freshman Jorsixt earned three starting nods and knocked in four hits, a triple, four RBIs, and one run scored. The sophomore duo of Cisco and Filip combined for six hits, a double, four RBIs, six runs, and eight walks.
On the pitching side, as expected, the two senior lefties wreaked havoc in South Carolina, with both marking a check in the victory column. Pulsipher struck out four and allowed only two runs in six innings, leading the Knights to their victory against Post. Fazah struckout three versus Chestnut Hill in five innings, allowing only three runs. It was Sanabria who got the toughest job, as he was called out to pitch against the aforementioned Southern New Hampshire Penmen. While he did give up five runs, he struck out seven, the highest mark from the trip. Gargano earned the save against Post, coming out to relieve Pulsipher; Gargano struckout three and allowed only one hit in three innings.
This Knights team is loaded, and will likely find themselves in the ECC championship picture once again, but, everyone will have to be firing on all sides to beat nationally-ranked Molloy Lions. For now, the focus is on the road ahead, as the Knights return to action on the 11th against Goldey-Beacom College.