New Roads is known for placing its graduating students into extraordinary universities where each student is prepared to thrive. New Roads, however, is not known for its baseball team. Indeed, over the past four years, the New Roads varsity baseball team compiled a record of 1-41.
That has changed. This past Friday, New Roads defeated Coastal League two-time defending champion Lennox Academy by a score of 4-1 on Senior Night in front of a crowd of nearly 200 at Clover Park. That victory clinched New Roads’ first Coast League championship ever. The team qualified for the League championship with an overall record of 6-6 (3-1 in League). They now advance to the first round of the CIF playoffs.
New Roads made a statement move last season, hiring former New York Yankee prospect and community college coach, Culver City’s Hector Zamora to turn the baseball program around. Zamora brought in former New Roads star outfielder Erik Scott, as well as Culver City’s Justin Weiner and Scott Zeidman to assist in the program’s turn-around.
New Roads entered Friday’s league championship game with one loss, facing off with the previous unbeaten Lennox Academy. New Roads turned to staff ace freshman Xavier Walker for the start. With the playoffs looming and on a limited pitch count, Walker was scheduled to go two innings.
Lennox took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. New Roads answered in the bottom of the first as Junior shortstop Tristan Nash led off with a booming double to right. Sophomore second baseman Fox Raggio followed with a triple, scoring Nash. Likely Coastal League Most Valuable Player, freshman Elio LaPorta, singled in Raggio, giving New Roads a 2-1 lead.
Walker excelled in his two innings, striking out five and giving up the lone run in the first. Leading 2-1, LaPorta followed Walker on the mound. LaPorta was nearly unhittable for the next four innings, giving up a lone infield single and striking out seven.
New Roads clung to a precarious 2-1 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning of the scheduled seven inning game. New Roads exploded for two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, contributed to the scoring with a clutch single.
LaPorta took the mound for the seventh inning and made quick work of the Lennox lineup, retiring the side on 12 pitches, sealing the victory for New Roads. Asked about how it felt to beat Lennox for the first time in his high school career, senior captain Jackson Chapman couldn’t have been more diplomatic.
“That Lennox team is incredibly good. They are fundamentally sound, and make the plays. This game could have gone either way, and I expect to see Lennox go far in the playoffs,” said Chapman. “We (the New Roads team) worked so hard this year under coach Hector (Zamora). I’m so happy for the seniors (Chapman, Diego Flores-Montes and Isaac Snegaroff) as we’ve experienced a lot of losing before this year. That makes this year that much better. And look, we start six freshman (Walker, LaPorta, Katseanes, Shea Tucker, Asamino Spong, and Bishop Banks). This might be our first playoff appearance, but it certainly won’t be our last. We are stacked!”
New Roads is scheduled to face the winner of Tuesday’s Wild Card game between Brentwood and Coastal Christian in the CIF Division 7 playoffs this Thursday.