Some pitchers rely on intimidation, others finesse. Philip Maldari just wants to look pretty.
At least that was the running joke on Friday, April 15, as the sophomore hurler pitched with a thick layer of mascara under his left eye that a female friend put on for a dance recital later in the evening.
Poly Prep coach Matt Roventini said the bus trip up was “torture” for his star sophomore. When Maldari told Fieldston players he didn’t have a black eye, that it was simply makeup, they razzed him even worse.
But give Maldari credit, he may be at his best all dolled up.
“It was all a joke,” he said. “It kind of motivated me to do good.”
Maldari threw six shutout innings of three-hit ball, struck out six and added two hits and two RBIs, powering Poly Prep to a commanding 8-0 road victory against Fieldston, its fourth dominant league victory in as many tries.
“We’re confident, but we’re not gonna get ahead of ourselves,” senior catcher Marcus Hernandez said. “As a whole, this team’s personality is pretty humble and that’s a big reason we’ve been successful. So we’re gonna try to keep it like that.”
Freshman Morgan Grey worked a perfect seventh and Hernandez had two hits and two RBIs as the Blue Devils broke the game open against Fieldston right-hander Mike Bregman with runs in the third, fourth and fifth.
Though the lineup may not be as powerful as in recent years, it is deeper and has excelled thus far on execution and taking what the opposing pitchers gives it. Of Poly Prep’s 12 hits, five went to the opposite field. The Blue Devils moved runners over and scored three runs on outs. In four league victories over Fieldston, Dalton, Collegiate and Trinity, the Brooklyn powerhouse has allowed two runs and scored a robust 37.
“I knew we were young, I knew we were good but I’m surprised in that we played three good games [and played so well],” Roventini said. “I’m pleasantly surprised we’re executing the little things better than I thought we would do.”
Pounding the strike zone and keeping the Eagles off balance, Maldari was in complete control. The same can be said of Poly Prep thus far this spring, its young roster in particular. Maldari and fellow sophomore ace Andrew Zapata have six of the team’s eight wins – Zapata delivered six shutout innings in a 5-0 win over Collegiate on Monday.
The two spent last year on the varsity, playing little but learning a lot. They have accepted their roles as underclassmen, despite their immense talent and bright future. Friday was a perfect example with Maldari absorbing playful abuse from his teammates then carrying them to victory.
“Everyone wanted me to keep it and I do what my teammates want me to do,” he said. “It’s too hard to get off anyway. Every time I hit the ball, they said way to go guy with a black eye.”
Maldari wasn’t the only one heading back to Poly Prep for the dance recital. Hernandez and Grey were, too. The class is an elective at Poly as students get to choose between dance and art.
“It’s a different kind of rush,” Hernandez said.
The performance is held annually in the spring. This is, in fact, Maldari’s second year in the program.
“My sister Nicole was a really good dancer, so I got to follow in her shoes,” he said sheepishly. “I’ll be in dance next year. I enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun.”
The only problem is the mascara may not be for dance recital’s anymore. He has set a certain standard for himself. Not in terms of production, but appearance.
“He’s gonna wear it every time, under both eyes,” Roventini joked. “He’ll look like a raccoon.”