BY DAVID RUSSELL
After finishing with an 8-8 record last season and an early playoff exit, the Maspeth Argonauts have clobbered the competition while winning their first 13 games. On Monday, they shut out Queens Vocational, 14-0 at Maurice Avenue Park. The two teams faced off again Wednesday at Flushing Meadows.
The Argonauts have scored 145 runs on the season while giving up only 37.
Last season was the first time that Maspeth played outside of a developmental division. “We had a pretty good club but played down to the competition,” said head coach Stefan Singh, an alumnus of York College. “This year [we had] a crop of younger students from the JV team and they’ve come up and made the team a family. The chemistry is why the team is so good.”
Maspeth sets the tone with speed. Four players have at least 20 stolen bases, and three others have at least 14. The team has fast runners, and co-coach Justin Lacoff worked with them on base running, timing pitchers, and getting good jumps. “In the ‘A’ division, we need to see a catcher can throw runners out or else we’re running,” Singh said. “It’s not a secret.”
Senior outfielder Matthew Nickel had been with the Argonauts for the first two development years, wasn’t on the baseball team last year, instead focusing his attention to basketball. Fortunately for Singh, Nickel returned and is hitting .563 with four homers, 21 RBI and 16 stolen bases. Not to be overlooked, Nathaniel Nickel is hitting .688 with two homers, 16 RBI and 23 stolen bases.
Nathaniel occasionally takes the mound and is 1-0 with a save. Junior outfielder Derian Puente is hitting .548 with 10 RBI and 27 stolen bases, and junior catcher Nicholas Regan is hitting .414 with 20 stolen bases.
The coach has his team firing on all cylinders. “It comes from the chemistry,” Singh said. “We’re a genuine family. If someone makes a mistake, the boys huddle up quickly and refocus. We’ve made some comebacks and won’t stop playing for each other. We practice six days a week with only Sundays off. And we make sure the pitchers get the right amount of rest. Everything has clicked 100 percent.”
Making Maspeth’s undefeated run even more impressive is that they don’t have a true home field. The Argonauts play home games at Maurice Avenue Park. Practices switch between the school and Maurice Park. “We have our own hitting cage in the back and a little turf field in the backyard for small drills,” Singh said. “Two times a week we use the Maurice Park fields for practice. Our focus is on winning games and we have to get practices in. Practice makes perfect.”