By ANTHONY SCOTT
As a high school senior at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, Joe DeLuca was cut from his high school baseball team. Tuesday night, the senior at the College of St. Rose will lead the Syracuse Jr. Chiefs into the New York Collegiate Baseball League post-season.
DeLuca out of Cicero, New York overcame the odds and made a college ball club after being cut from his high school team. He shows his determination both at the plate and in the field. Always putting his body on the line diving back to the bag glove first, to get an out.
His coach, Joe Antonio, gave DeLuca high praise of his hitting.
“He’s most effective when he focuses on a job he has to do,” Antonio said. “He needs to use the left side against the right handed pitcher to his advantage more.”
DeLuca is currently his team’s second best average hitter sitting at .302. He has also showed plenty of power leading Syracuse with 12 doubles, even though he joined the team late.
“I’m just trying to get better and work on everything,” DeLuca said.
Since joining the team 14 games late, he has helped his Junior Chiefs to a two seed in the the NYCBL Eastern Division and an impressive 26-20 record. From behind the plate, he has handled an all-star pitching staff which includes Jimmy Skiff (Purdue Univ. Calumet), Matthew Sandoval (Purdue Univ. Calumet) and Patrick Merryweather (Col of Charleston).
“The J.Chiefs told me they had a spot open for me if I needed a place to play,” the senior said. “I had been hopping around in the Pefect Game League and I had a temporary contract so I got released and came down here.”
DeLuca is also protected in the lineup by other all-star hitters on the team. The Jr. Chiefs are a scary bunch heading into the playoffs although they lost their last three games.
“These guys have been nothing, but great around me.” DeLuca said, “There’s going to be nerves coming in, but I’m able to calm down real fast.”
DeLuca is versatile as he can flash the glove at first while suiting up or sitting behind the plate calling a beautiful game.
“He’s an all-around player,” Antonio added. “He can play first. He’s caught, and he can swing from both sides.”
DeLuca embraces being a leader even though he is one of the newcomers.
“I try to take charge as much as I can.” the dual threat said, “I definitely like calling the game more from behind the dish, but I still try to get my two cents in when I’m at first.”
It’s hard to believe that the Junior Chiefs would be as much as a threat as they are without the 6′ 4” senior. It’s hard not to root for this guy.
DeLuca has persevered through the troubles and is now flourishing with hopes of playing professional baseball.
“If he gets a shot at being drafted next year that’s a big plus on his side.” coach Antonio said, “It’s really important for him to get better at making adjustments at the plate.”
If his squad can cut down the amount of errors they also have a realistic shot at going very deep in this year’s post-season.
The playoffs begin for the Jr.Chiefs Tuesday at Onondaga Community College as they take on the Syracuse Salt Cats in the win-or-go-home Eastern Division Playoff.
The two teams will take to the field at 7:00 P.M.
DeLuca doesn’t want to see this summer end as he says, “It’s been really fun”. He will definitely have a big impact on the game as he is almost guranteed to be starting at either 1st base or catcher.
The winner of Tuesday’s game will advance to play the Cortland Crush in the best-of-three Eastern Division Championship Series.