Josh Rosario is part of the Spackenkill High School baseball team’s one-two pitching punch.
When he’s not baffling hitters with his fastball, changeup or curveball, he’s defending the middle infield at shortstop. And, the senior is just as good with the bat. Last season, Rosario averaged .290 at the plate and drove in 16 runs.
Last season ended for Spackenkill in the Section 9 Class B championship game to Highland and the loss put an end to the Spartans’ streak of four straight Class B titles.
But Rosario has put it behind him and has worked all offseason with a “one game at a time” mentality.
He talked to the Journal about his pitches, the future and his excitement level for Major League Baseball’s opening day.
You’re one of the aces on the staff, along with Mike Hovermill. Talk about what goes into being a No. 1 pitcher.
It’s a lot of hard work. Me and Mike come out every week and we try to do everything we can so the team can be successful. That’s all that matters at the end of the day. Really, once they got me into the rotation in my sophomore year, it was a whole different mindset. I’m always ready to go out when they need me and to help the team win.
What sort of pitches do you feature and how did you develop them?
I throw a fastball — two seam and four seam — a changeup and a curveball. I was always more of a dominant fastball pitcher. Trying to develop changeup was difficult, but with a lot of work from different guys, it’s on its way. Curveball is hit or miss. It all comes down to working hard and trying to figure things out.
Spackenkill opened against Arlington last week in a loss. How would you assess the way the team played?
It wasn’t our best game. This year we have a young team, we have a couple sophomores, but these kids are working every day trying to get better. When they want to work hard to get better and win games, it makes everybody happy.
Last year ended the program’s title streak. What sort of things have you, the rest of the team and coach Don Neise been working on in order to get back to the title game?
Kids came out in early winter this year; getting in the gym, getting to know each other early. We had practices two, three times a week so we could come into this season and be in mid-season form. Last year’s (final) game: it happens. It’s baseball. Highland came out and hit the ball, made plays in the field. It came down to them outplaying us and we don’t want that to happen again.
We have to take it game by game. Hopefully we’ll be in that spot to play Highland or a Marlboro in the playoffs, but we have to focus on the next game and the next practice.
When you’re not pitching, you’re playing shortstop. Which do you prefer?
I love playing shortstop and it was an experience playing next to Justin Etts (last year). We did a lot of work off the field. He showed me a bunch of different things and I love playing the middle infield.
But I love pitching. I love when I’m zoned in and the game is in my control. I love having that feeling of taking over, almost. They’re two different mindsets and I enjoy that mindset on the mound. “What pitch am I throwing next? What do I have to do to get him out?”
It’s tough. I’m going to college to pitch.
Speaking of, you chose Mercy College.
I was talking to a couple different schools at all levels: Division I, Division II and Division III. I went to Mercy, visited the school and I knew the coaches a bit. I threw in front of them. The pitching coach knows what he’s talking about. Mercy is having a decent year. I know John Mooradian from Marlboro is going there, and there’s a lot of excitement.
It’s also not too far (Dobbs Ferry). If I want to come home during the weekend, I can come home. We’ll see what happens, but I’m trying to stay focused on this season.
Who is your favorite pro baseball player and why?
It’s got to be Derek Jeter. Ever since I was a little kid, I love the way he played because he was always serious. He took the game as more than just a game. He’s the way every baseball player should be. You got guys like Yasiel Puig and Bryce Harper — great players, but they got that cockiness to them. Jeter was good but never showed that cockiness. I model myself after him and I hope others model themselves after that.
Which is your favorite pro team and why?
The Yankees. My family’s from the Bronx, I’ve been to a bunch of Yankee games. I grew up into it.
On a scale of 1-10, one being not at all enthused, 10 being super-hyped, what was your excitement level for Major League Baseball’s opening day?
Eleven. I love baseball. I love playing it, watching it. When it comes down to watching it, it’s an exciting sport. Everything kind of relates around baseball.
It’s early. But who are your World Series picks and why?
That’s a tough call. In the National League, I see the Chicago Cubs going far. And for the American League, I honestly think the Yankees will make a playoff run this year, with the dominant bullpen they have. But I don’t think I have an American League pick right now.
What is your favorite baseball movie?
“Rookie of the Year.” That’s got to be my favorite. It’s just a random kid, something freakish happens and in the biggest game of the year his arm goes back to normal. I also really liked “42.” That was a good one.
What is your favorite food to eat after a game?
If I’m not coming home to a plate of rice and beans, me and the boys might go to Hardee’s or Taco Bell. But nothing beats home-cooked rice, beans and empanadas.
When you get home from a game, what do you watch on TV?
Just “SportsCenter,” or a game that’s on. Baseball, college hoops. It’s usually a game or ESPN so I know what’s going on.
A.J. Martelli: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports