No downtime for these DJacks and Finch’s Aces

By Bob Behre | March 21, 2020

One of my old editors once remarked, “There are a million stories in the naked city.” Or was that an intro to the old police drama, “Dragnet?”

I’ve been doing this writing and reporting thing since the late 1970s, believe it or not, so some storylines get twisted up and tied together. A writer’s mind works in weird and unsettling ways and nothing is weirder and more unsettling than a pandemic.

I’ve discovered over the years how true my old editor’s statement is, having written stories on seemingly every conceivable subject and an unending array of sports and athletes. Our Diamond Jacks and Finch’s Aces programs have provided fertile ground for intriguing stories that have been a joy to write.

Part of my appointed rounds at Diamond Nation since I joined the staff in the summer of 2012 is to bring to life many of those “stories” that stream through our doors on a daily basis.

Being socially and physically “distanced” from one’s community seems to put the brain simultaneously in idle and in overdrive. I believe if I were 12, I’d run outside and climb the highest tree I could find. I’m not 12 and realize – as you must, given my 1970s reference – it’s much safer for me to walk around the block.

Chloe Pocceschi is focused on things she can control as she prepares for her spring season at North Hunterdon.

Part of the pleasure of writing these many stories is getting to know our young athletes and learning about their hard work, desires and hopes for their immediate future. Every athlete is different as are his or her stories.

Our games create ample opportunity to see our players in action and provide an unending supply of stories, but, right now, we have no games, so we’ve reached out this week to our players to flesh out feature stories. And now we ask our players how they are staying sharp, waiting and hoping for a quick return to the baseball or softball field.

“The whole process has been very inconvenient and difficult to get behind, almost like it’s not real,” says Diamond Jack Matt Gluck. “It’s all happened so fast and I’ve been going through a whirlwind of emotions.”

Moreover, you can see the players’ thoughts below reveal a high level of optimism, concentration and strong intentions to be prepared for the season, among a splash of understandable frustration and concern.

We hope sharing our players’ thoughts will provide all ballplayers with ideas on how to occupy their day with constructive baseball and softball activities and positive approaches as we move closer to returning to the field.

Chris Maldonado is finding creative ways to prepare for his season at Seton Hall Prep

Kyle McCoy, soph. LHP, DJacks Super 16U, Hunt. Central/Maryland:

“At about 9 a.m. I go online and do may school work until about 12-12:30,” says McCoy. “After lunch I might watch some TV or play some video games. Then anywhere around 2:30 and 5 I go out and throw with a friend to keep my arm ready for the season.

“Whether it’s long toss, just light close distance, flat ground or a bullpen, I do some throwing. Sometimes I just focus on mechanics. I eat dinner around 6 and then play video games until about 9 and go to bed.”

Rush Ehrhart, sr. OF, DJacks Gold 17, No. Hunterdon/Gettysburg:

“I’ve been keeping myself busy during these days at home and I’m trying to fall into a routine,” says Ehrhart. “I try to get to bed and wake up at the same time. I have been bombarded with school, unfortunately, so I have to get that done. I’ve been working out every day.

“Other than that, I’ve been looking for small things to do like cleaning my car, sleeping, watching movies and playing video games. I think the biggest thing to keep me in check is that I have been calling my friends to see what they are doing and how things are going for them. These are tough times but I’m trying to make the best of it and using this period to really better myself physically and mentally.”

Ryan Rumsey, sr. RHP, DJacks Super 17, Paul VI (Hadd.)/Xavier

I’ve been keeping my arm in shape doing bands, making sure I’m throwing when I’m supposed to,” says Rumsey. “I’m also doing drills so my mechanics stay good and sharp and making sure I do the correct recovery plan so my arm stays healthy.

“It’s definitely been strange not having any baseball practices or games to go to. It’s especially hard now because usually this is the time where everyone’s excited to start the season and get going.”

Ryan Rumsey is locked into making sure his mechanics stay strong during time away from the field.

Rileigh Glynn, sr. OF, Finch’s Aces Premier, Immaculata/Bucknell

“My days have consisted of getting my online school work done and then doing my workouts, along with some hitting and throwing at home,” says Glynn.

“I’ve been eating healthier because, at home, I’m able to make healthy meals. I’ve gone to JCBA to do some running when it’s been nice out.”

Truman Richter, so. LHP, DJacks Super 16, Voorhees/Va. Tech

“Over the past week my usual routine has not changed,” says Richter. “I wake up and do my school work. When I’m done I find someone to throw with. Depending on the day, I stretch-toss, long toss, do a flat ground or throw a bullpen.

“After I complete my throwing I try to stay active by either getting on my bike and meeting up with friends or going for a run.”

Mike Horn, sr. OF, DJacks Gold 17, No. Hunt./Washington College:

“During these troubling times it’s been hard to have my normal routine of hitting at Diamond Nation then going to HealthQuest to do a workout,” says Horn. “But I’ve been doing my best by doing some tee work in the driveway (I hit into a sock net).

“I got together with a friend or two earlier in the week to throw (don’t worry we stayed six feet apart). I’ve been doing workouts in my basement, sent to me by our junior varsity coach Derek Yocum, to stay fit. Some days I’ll go on a run just trying to do what I can at the moment.

“I lot of us are disappointed that we may be missing our last spring season of high school baseball. We are hoping that club/travel teams like the Diamond Jacks host 18U teams this summer to prepare us for the college season.

Chris Maldonado, so. IF, DJacks Super 17, Seton Hall Prep/Clemson:

“A normal day for me (now) is doing online school work, which takes a pretty long time,” says Maldonado. “ Then I try to workout, hitting or throwing with my brother Nick, who is home from (Vanderbilt).

“We are very fortunate to have a nice gym setup in our garage with enough equipment to get a solid workout in. I also have a tee and a net in my basement that I can hit with whenever I want. The setup obviously is not as efficient as you would like, but we’re trying to make the best of what we have at home.”

Chloe Pocceschi, sr. OF, Finch’s Aces Premier, No. Hunt./Caldwell:

“To stay sharp, I’ve been focusing on everything that I can control,” said Pocceschi. “I’m making sure to practice my mechanics and get some reps in on nice days.

“Tee work, front toss and fielding are all examples of things I’ve been doing.”

Aidan Kane, sr. OF, DJacks Super 17, Delbarton/Delaware:

“I don’t really have weights in my house, so I’ve been doing a lot of body weight stuff,” says Kane. “I do a core workout six days a week and on three of those days I’ll run two miles and finish it off with 200 body weight squats.

“On the other three days I do arm workouts in my room, usually combining forearms, biceps and triceps.”

Zach Sylvester, sr. SS, DJacks Super 17, Montville/Seton Hall Univ.:

“Basically, I have online classes from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., then I finish up any homework I may have,” says Sylvester. “After that, I do a lot of body weight exercises, such as push-ups and pull-ups, since I can’t go to the gym. I’ve been trying to throw on a regular basis but even that is challenging as most public places around me are closed.

“Hitting has also been tough, so I’ve been doing a lot of dry swings and visualizing different pitches that could be thrown at me. That may sound a little weird but you’ve got to make the best of what you have, I guess. This whole situation in unfortunate but there isn’t much that we can do so I’ve been staying as positive as possible, hoping it will clear up soon.”

Zach Sylvester longs for the moment he’s rounding third for his Montville team.

Ben Iervolino, sr. LHP, DJacks Super 17, Hunterdon Central/Mount St. Mary:

“Almost every day, me and my teammate Chris Masters throw to keep our arms in shape,” says Iervolino. “After we throw, we go back to Chris’ house to workout in his basement. With all gyms closed it’s hard to get the same production at an at-home gym. We still find ways to make it happen.

“Also some of my other teammates like Kenny Lombardo, Tyler Cassella, Ryan Godown, Tristen Spalter and Dylan Brunetti hit BP. Despite me being a pitcher, I still shag for my teammates. Part of staying ready for the season is bonding with your teammates because we’re all a family. I have no doubt in my mind, if we do have a season, the Hunterdon Central boys will be ready.”

Matt Miceli, jr. MIF, DJacks Super 17, Somerville/Stony Brook

“The strength coach at Somerville put together a five-week body weight workout program, which I started this week,” says Miceli. “I have also been hitting a few times a week and throwing with my brother, who is home from college.”

Matt Gluck, sr. 3B, DJacks Super 17, W. Morris/Franklin & Marshall:

“I’m taking this time off to bring out the best in myself,” says Gluck, “and do my best to separate myself from the rest of the pack. It’s easy to use this virus as an excuse not to work hard both on the field and with your schoolwork. I didn’t take that route.

“The past few days have been very busy and full of hard work. We started online learning this week. The whole day is in front of a screen, so it becomes hard to have the energy to keep pushing through.

“I am constantly fueling my body with necessary food and water throughout the day. A few of my buddies and I go to the local park and spend two hours hitting and getting in work we need to do. I usually take a full bucket off the tee, working on my in-game approach, placing the tee outside, middle and inside. I’m trying to put an emphasis on my mechanics and my approach to the game so there’s not wasted reps.

“After we finish on the field, I’ll lift in my basement, making sure I stay active and get stronger every day. At the end of the day, it teaches me to treat every time you step on the field like it’s your last and to be grateful for being able to play such an awesome game.”

Matt Potok, jr. RHP, Djacks Super 17, Jackson Mem./Coastal Carolina.

“This past week has been brutal,” says Potok. “Just having to stay home and not being able to practice really stinks. Our high school team was practicing without the coaches until the 10-person rule was announced.

“Some guys have some equipment in their basement and are using that. Other guys are just doing body weight exercises. All of the pitchers are still throwing with family and working with (private) pitching coaches to get bullpens in when needed. Arm care and bands are the most important for our pitchers, so if we can play this season we are ready to go and our arms feel good.”

Greg Bozzo plays a grueling card game to keep himself in shape for the spring season.

Greg Bozzo, sr. C, Djacks Super 17, Ridge/LaSalle

“I’m jumping rope, running, doing ladders, playing the Ray Lewis 52 Card Game and mind healing things since we cannot play the sport we love right now. Walks and bike rides with loved ones is just as important.

“I’ve also been throwing bullpens with some local guys and trying to take advantage of whatever we can.”

By the way, Bozzo isn’t playing gin rummy or poker. The Ray Lewis 52 Card Game is an intense workout utilizing playing cards to determine your workout. It’s the type of card game that requires plenty of hydration.

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