Poly Prep baseball team finally got that chip off its shoulder.
The squad has been carrying around last year’s champion-steak-snapping playoff loss, but it reclaimed its place at the top of the Association of Independent Schools with an 8–1 victory over Rye Country Day at Manhattanville College upstate on May 25.
“They knew there was only one way to finish this season, and that was to win the whole thing,” Poly Prep coach Matt Roventini said. “They have a chip on their shoulder, and they deserve it. We tell them to walk around with that chip on your shoulder because nobody should beat you. Nobody will beat you if you play that way and they proved that.”
It was the fifth state title in six years for Poly Prep (24–5), which was knocked out of the playoffs in the quarterfinals last season.
This year the Blue Devils lived up to every expectation, buoyed by a dominant performance from a senior core.
Daniel Bakst, the Gatorade New York State Player of the Year, went two-for-three, driving in three runs, and Connecticut commit Anthony Prato racked up three hits.
“Coach always says put the ball in play and things will happen,” Prato said. “We put the ball in play and things happened. Everybody stepped, up and we made it happen.”
The Blue Devils bats have been strong all postseason, but Poly Prep got some help from its pitching — starter Nick Storz shut down Rye at the plate.
“Especially early in the game, I was locating my slider and my fastball,” Storz said. “I could throw it whenever I wanted. I thought that was the best thing that kept them off balance.”
It was the second time this season Storz tossed a complete game. The Blue Devils were ready to make a pitching change if necessary, but Roventini never felt the need.
“He’s a battler,” Roventini said. “I had a feeling today when he started throwing, he was going to go seven innings. He wanted to. It’s a luxury throwing Nick on the mound.”
Poly Prep seized every opportunity, taking advantage of Rye errors to jump out to a seven-run lead after four innings. The Blue Devils were also aggressive on the base paths, racking up nine stolen bases to keep the pressure on throughout the game.
The Blue Devils did their best to not dwell on the past this season, but that wasn’t always easy. There were questions and reminders throughout the year, as well as a sense that anything but a title this spring would be a disappointment.
This team, however, was different than last year’s squad and, in the end, that made all the difference.
“Every game since last year when we got knocked out, we knew that’s not what we wanted,” Prato said. “We wanted to get back here, and we gave our everything — every game of the playoffs, every game of the year — and we came out on top.”