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Leadership, Small Ball and Consistent Defense Key Ingredients to a Successful 2023 Baseball Season for Atlantic Cape

02/16/2023 | Media Contact: David Zuba, Public Relations Manager and Copywriter | (609) 343-4933
Atlantic Cape's Baseball co-captains for 2023 season

MAYS LANDING — In an era of baseball where analytics are heavily-utilized to build playing rosters and the three absolutes - strikeouts, home runs and walks - prevail from first pitch to the last, the Atlantic Cape Community College Buccaneers Men’s Baseball team is prepared to play an old-school style of hardball in 2023 under head coach Rodney Velardi.

Coming off of a 2022 season that never met the team’s high expectations following a successful 2021 campaign, which saw the Buccaneers rise to 10th in the nation in the National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) Division III Region 19 rankings, coach Velardi is counting on his men prioritizing the basics and displaying an organically-grown leadership quality throughout his lineup that may yield substantial on-field benefits.

Atlantic Cape Baseball head coach Rodney Velardi“I am excited about what we have as a team this year. We have regained a bit of that leadership that we were missing last year,” Velardi said. “Our leadership group has grown from within and we have players that understand our systems and expectations.”

Atlantic Cape has its work cut out this season as the Buccaneers will face six nationally ranked teams, four of which - Rowan College of South Jersey/Gloucester, Rowan College of South Jersey/Cumberland, Northampton and Brookdale - are top-10 in Region 19. Coming into this season Atlantic Cape is 13th in the NJCAA pre-season toughest schedule rankings heading into the season’s 44-game slate.

The Buccaneer offense will be driven by a philosophy that focuses on hitting ground balls, spraying line drives around the field, beating balls out and running the bases with speed. Playing “small ball” by bunting, taking extra bases and doing the little things consistently right will allow the team, according to Velardi, to “control the controllables.”

The Buccaneers are returning 11 players from last season and will be led by its quartet of co-captains - Kevin Foreman, Javier Vega, Luis Sauri II and Jon Dempsey.

Foreman, the starting center field and Northfield native who attended St. Augustine Prep set the single season stolen base record for Atlantic Cape last year and could possibly break the all-time career record this year.

“He’s just the fastest kid I have ever seen and I have seen a lot of kids and a lot of baseball,” Velardi stated.

Vega is a starting outfielder from Egg Harbor Township who attended the Atlantic County Institute for Technology high school, Sauri II is a 2-time All-Region 19 player at shortstop from Millville who attended Buena Regional high school and Dempsey is a third/first baseman from Saddle Brook.

Atlantic Cape sophomore pitcher Joe HamillSophomore starting right-handed pitcher Joe Hamill of Port Republic will anchor a pitching staff that has good depth, which is always in demand over the course of a long season as arms tire.

Along with a vocal leadership group that will ensure the team maintains its intensity level through the ups-and-downs of a game and throughout the season, the Buccaneers will rely on its defense to be a difference maker.

“We are going to be a great defensive team, we are not going to make mistakes and we will be super consistent,” Velardi said. “That is the part of the game we can control by influencing it with our hustle, effort and attitude.”

Maintaining that edge is the focus for the coaches and players this season.

“We are focusing on the mental side of the game this year,” Velardi said. “Energy is not a byproduct of your performance, it is the catalyst for your performance.”

Velardi is in his 13th season as head coach of Buccaneer baseball. He was previously the head coach at Egg Harbor Township high school from 2000-05, as well as assistant varsity coach at Toms River South and Elizabeth high schools. He played four years at Butler University as a left-handed pitcher and right fielder. Velardi is joined once again this year by assistant coach Jeff Ball, who is in his ninth season at Atlantic Cape. Ball is a former major league player and manager of the defunct Atlantic City Surf.

The Buccaneers begin the 2023 season on Sunday, February 19 at Delaware Technical Community College in Dover with a morning/afternoon doubleheader. The Buccaneers play their home opener at Surf Stadium in Atlantic City on Sunday, February 26 with a doubleheader against Northampton Community College at 12 and 2pm. All home games again this year will be played at Surf Stadium.

Visit for a complete roster, game schedule and more information on Atlantic Cape baseball.



About Atlantic Cape Community College

Atlantic Cape is a comprehensive two-year community college serving the residents of Atlantic and Cape May counties. The college offers over 40 career, transfer and workforce development programs to more than 8,000 students annually at three campuses in New Jersey: Atlantic City, Cape May Court House and Mays Landing.