New era begins well for Costantino, Bulldogs


By: Mike Molaro
   The John Costantino era started in fine fashion for the Hopewell Valley Central High School baseball squad as the Bulldogs won two of their first three games, using good pitching, solid defense, and clutch hitting for the pair of victories.
   HoVal opened its season with a 6-0 home triumph over Colonial Valley Conference foe Lawrence on April 3 in a game called because of darkness after five innings.
   Junior right-hander Matt Barrett allowed just one hit, walked one, and struck out eight Cardinals.
   He helped his own cause with three runs batted in, including a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth.
   The Bulldogs made the most of their four hits in giving Costantino his first Bulldog victory.
   "It was very important to start with a win," the first-year head coach said. "It proves to the guys that they can win. It creates an environment that’s good to be in. Winning breeds winning.
   "We made the most of our opportunities. We took advantage of their walks. It’s nice to win and show the guys that good things happen if they do what we talk about and do every day in practice."
   Senior catcher Bob Piantoni drove in three runs with a pair of hits and scored twice and senior right-hander Matt Boyle surrendered two hits and didn’t allow an earned run as HoVal topped Hightstown, 10-3, last Friday in game called because of darkness after six innings.
   Boyle also had an RBI , as did junior center fielder Chris Borkowski, junior first baseman Chuck Sista, and Barrett.
   The home team scored three runs in the bottom of the first before the Bulldogs put things away with six runs in the top of the fifth and four more in the sixth.
   "It took a little while for us to get it going," added Costantino. "We were hitless through five innings. Matt (Boyle) threw well after the first inning. He threw 78 pitches over six innings and threw 30 of those in the first inning. He kept us in the ball game until our bats came around."
   HoVal was held to singles by Barrett and junior first baseman Mike Williams in a 10-1 loss at Steinert on Monday.
   It was one of those games where the Bulldogs’ youth proved to be their biggest opponent.
   "Our inexperience and lack of confidence showed," Costantino said. "I told the guys after the game that they need the confidence that they can play with a team like Steinert. Teams like Steinert don’t do anything different than us and they don’t work harder than us. It will take awhile for the guys to believe in their abilities. We will be a better team for it.
   "Matt (Barrett) tried to do a little too much by himself. He will learn from this experience."
   Costantino expects a lot from his guys and they showed in this first week of the season that they have the talent to make things happen.