By Mike Smollins
Last year, the Clippers’ baseball team finished first place in the season standings and fell one game shy of making it to the World Series after being ousted two games to one by the Grant Campus in the finals of the 2008 Region XV Tournament. Though that kind of experience could damage a team emotionally, they are hopeful that this season will be just as successful as the last, if not more.
Coach Eric Brown said he is very excited for this year, but isn’t exactly sure what to expect quite yet.
“I tell my teams every year that at some point they’ll develop a personality,” said Brown, “I tell them they have to push themselves. They are a talented group with a great attitude and great things can happen.”
Brown’s track record speaks for itself. He has coached for 22 years at Suffolk and has composed a dazzling 428-251-4 record in that time frame with four Regional Championships in the years 1998, 1999, 2000, and 2006 and also Coach of the Year honors in those years.
Brown has also surrounded himself with a great coaching staff with assistant coaches Lou Klammer (10th year), Joseph Kosina (7th year), and Ron Davies (7th year). Klammer, whose son once played here, coaches first base and is responsible for the outfielders. Kosina graduated Suffolk in 2000 and got his bachelors degree at the University of Arizona in 2004.
Ron Davies has lived in the baseball world both as a player and a coach for over 44 years, and his insight is a huge help to the team. He came over after many years at Adelphi to help Coach Brown. Davies is a member of the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the Adelphi Hall of Fame.
“I always felt that Long Island kids could compete, and they proved it by playing teams representing the entire country. They beat teams from places like Florida and California,” said Davies, a lifetime member of the Baseball Coaches Association.
Brown said he feels good about his coaching staff, but also there are some returning players he really believes in. Trevor Thorstensen is a returning player who was awarded 2nd Team All American in the pre-season. Anthony Constantanos is the ace of the pitching staff and he went 7-1 last season. Brown is hopeful he can match that success, if not top it.
Catcher Thomas Butler was awarded 1st team All-Region. One player Brown is really excited about is Joe Budalmante. Budalmante is a sophomore who didn’t play last year; however, he did help the 2006 team go all the way to the Jr. College World Series. Coach Brown also expects good things out of his freshmen.
The Clippers’ season starts with a road trip to North Carolina and then to Middlesex, New Jersey. Brown likes the idea of starting the season with a road trip.
“I like the trip for two reasons. The team tends to bond on the trip down, and that helps them develop personality. Also, most of these guys go to four year schools. Displaying them down there in in-game action helps their chances of being recruited,” Brown said.
Many of the players have been recruited. Constantanos is going to Lander University in South Carolina with a scholarship. Thonstenson is going to Adelphi with a scholarship as well.
The Clippers have all the pieces to success. They have a solid experienced coaching staff, a great array of freshmen, and they have guys who shared success last year returning to the team. The only question that remains is if they can find their personality. Though Brown isn’t sure if they will find their personality, Davies can sum up the season in four words, “We’ll do very well.”