It has been 12 years since Chris Golden last managed a high school baseball team. Now Golden is back in the dugout, running the Greenport team and talking about how coaching baseball is overrated.
“Baseball hasn’t changed in a hundred and twenty years,” Golden said, “hit the ball, throw the ball and catch the ball.”
Golden takes over from Mike Reed, who guided the Porters to a 9-11 record last year, falling short of the playoffs in their inaugural season as a Greenport-only team. Greenport baseball is hardly alien to Golden, though. He coached a combined Southold/Greenport team from 1990 to 2000 before taking a 12-year hiatus from the sport.
Michael Reed, the former coach’s son, was Greenport’s catalyst last year, leading the team in batting average, runs batted in and stolen bases. The senior can play catcher, first base or man the outfield.
“I think he feels there’s a lot of pressure on him,” Golden said. “He just needs to play.”
Mark Pagano, a senior, and Matt Dibble, a junior, were both starters last year. They can both pitch and play in the middle infield. Also offering varsity experience are infielder Brian Tuthill, outfielder Bryant Rivas and pitcher/first baseman/outfielder Austin Hooks.
Golden is big on versatility, and the Porters should have plenty of that.
“That’s something that I’m big on. I stress that,” he said. “… You have to be able to play a number of positions.”
Two freshmen, twins Matt and John Drinkwater, can pitch or play just about anywhere on the field. Christian Angelson can catch or play in the outfield. Max Eggimann and Christian Davis are also outfield candidates.
Pagano and Dibble hold the first two spots in the starting pitching rotation. The third spot, Golden said, may amount to pitching by committee, with Hooks, the Drinkwater brothers and Rivas.
“It’s simple,” Golden said. “If I get some good pitching, we’ll be competitive. If we struggle pitching-wise, it will be a long season.” He added, “If our pitchers can throw strikes and really minimize the number of pitches that they throw, that will keep us in games and be critical.”
It’s a young team with two seniors, three juniors and the rest composed of underclassmen.
If things proceed the way the Porters would like, they would become the first Greenport-only team to make the playoffs. Aside from Greenport, Smithtown Christian is the only other Class D team in Suffolk County.
In the meantime, Golden maintains that baseball is a simpler game than people sometimes make it.
“I laugh,” he said. “Sometimes people overthink the game.”