WHITESBORO, NY — In a sea of blue and white on Thursday night, the one standout was one who will very soon be wearing red.
Whitesboro senior Avery Cook, who has already committed to Division I St. John’s University, had a career day for the Warriors, allowing just one hit and striking out 13 Camden Blue Devils before being relieved in the 7th inning in his 2019 debut. Cook was no slouch at the plate, either, going one-for-three with a double to power his Whitesboro team to a 3-0 victory at home.
Camden head coach Jake Bates put it as simply as possible: “Avery was good,” he said of the senior. “He was just better than us tonight. He kept our hitters off balance all day.”
“Avery was outstanding today,” Whitesboro head coach Joe Maggiolino said. “He was all over the zone and pitched very efficient innings.”
Cook’s efficiency was noticeable from the very first inning, as he set the Blue Devils down in order on just 11 pitches and three quick strikeouts. While Camden starter John Mitchell would give up a baserunner, on an error by the third baseman in the very first Whitesboro at-bat, he would be just as brilliant as Cook. Despite getting in several jams, Mitchell kept the Warriors off the scoreboard for the first three innings.
“Everything was working on the mound today,” Cook said of his performance. “I missed a lot of bats…I was thinking that I could just put it anywhere I wanted today.”
“We had some opportunities today, and we definitely left some runners on the bases,” Maggiolino said of the missed opportunities for insurance runs, as the Warriors left three runners on base in the first three innings and seven overall. “We had a chance to tack on some runs and we just missed it.”
The Warriors’ patience would be rewarded, however, in the bottom of the fourth inning, thanks to a quintet of seniors. Collin McAndrew managed to squeak a ball past Mitchell to grab only the second hit of the game for Whitesboro (and third throughout the game). The senior would pick up the first run of the game, however, as fellow senior Lucas Pasquarelli hammered a ball to deep center field to score McAndrew from first and pick up a double for himself. He came home as well, as classmate Josh Strzepek hit an RBI single. Strzepek would get to third by virtue of a stolen base, as well as a walk that would load up the bases. That was when another senior, Anthony Ruggiero, brought him home on a sacrifice hit.
“When we got those insurance runs, I knew that was all we needed,” Cook said. “My mindset was pretty much the same: just go out and throw strikes.”
After another inning in which Cook did just that, setting the Blue Devils down in order yet again (he would do that in four of the six full innings the senior pitched), he let his booming bat do the work as well. After Noah Scranton grounded out to the pitcher to start the fifth inning, Cook finally managed to get on the scoresheet after hitting two booming flyouts to deep center field. He would take a ball once again to center field, only this time, it would fall to the ground, allowing the senior to pick up a double. At the same time, he would end Mitchell’s day early, after just four innings of play. Reliever Josh Ott would allow Cook to get to third on a sacrifice hit by McAndrew, but he would get no further, forcing a groundout and a pop fly to end the fifth.
That would be all Cook would need, taking a one-hitter into the seventh before being relieved by McAndrew after 6 1/3 innings. McAndrew would inherit a jam after Cook had allowed a single to Eric Mitchell and walking Tanner Young. However, McAndrew would pitch just as admirably, striking out Rich Paul before Cook would make the final out. Cook would catch a pop fly from Camden left fielder Kyle Wines mere steps away from his position at first base to end the game.
“Collin did a great job [in relief],” Cook said. “He pitched out of a jam I made, but he did great. We played great overall. Our defense was sound, our hitting was great.”
Despite only managing two hits and no runs, Bates was very happy at the Blue Devils’ performance against the Warriors’ ace.
“Our team showed some grit today,” Bates said. “It was a very good high school baseball game. We have to get better at the plate.”
Despite very cold conditions (temperatures hovered around the mid-40s all day, and there were reports of some snowflakes around the field), Maggiolino was very proud of how his team worked throughout the game.
“[Today was] a good, positive first step,” Maggiolino said. “After having 30 practices, they’ve worked very hard for this opportunity. Overall, we had some good contact and some kids trying to put together a good at-bat. It was good for the first day out…we got those first-game jitters out today.”
Both teams may have got those first-game jitters out of the way, but the schedule doesn’t get any easier from here, as both teams will head to warmer climates down south for tournaments over the spring break. Camden will participate in the Mingo Bay Classic Tournament, played at various high schools in the city. Meanwhile, Whitesboro will play in the Cal Ripken Experience Tournament. Both teams hope to use their tournaments as a learning experience.
“After today, we now know what we need to do, and what we can improve on going to Myrtle Beach,” Cook said.
“I’m just going to tell my guys to stay positive and keep working,” Bates said. “We’ll get better.”
Whitesboro Warriors 3, Camden Blue Devils 0
Blue Devils 000 000 0 0 2 2
Warriors 000 300 X 3 6 0
WP: Avery Cook (6.1 IP, 13 K, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB)
LP: John Mitchell (4.1 IP, 0 K, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB)
Whitesboro: Collin McAndrew.
Camden: Josh Ott.
2B — Whitesboro: Ryan Cardone, Lucas Pasquarelli, Cook.
Total LOB: Whitesboro 7, Camden 4.
Records: Whitesboro 1-0, 1-0 TVL Colonial, Camden 0-1, 0-1 TVL Colonial