Baseball: Elon lands Stepinac's Maruri
By JOSH THOMSON
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: November 13, 2007)
Despite his age, Alex Maruri is aware he can be a product of his environment. The Stepinac senior works hard but when prodded he works even harder.
This fall, several top baseball programs were ready to hand him their starting third base job as part and parcel of a scholarship, but Maruri wasn't comfortable with such an arrangement.
Instead, the top hitter in the Lower Hudson Valley will hope to earn his way into the lineup at Elon, where he gave his oral commitment to play baseball beginning next fall.
"The truth is, I was probably going to get better opportunities to start other places my freshman year," Maruri said, "but when I went to that school I saw that the baseball players there wanted to work hard. That's what I was looking for."
Maruri's decision ended speculation as to where he'd land. He has been a star since he was 12, when the Bedford Hills' 13- and 14-year-old summer team forfeited its place in a state championship game because Maruri was too young.
There were dozens of schools in competition for Maruri this summer, including Maryland, Wake Forest, St. John's, Illinois, St. Louis and Delaware. Maruri very much wanted a school in the south and dreamed of playing ACC baseball.
Maryland had been his top choice initially and had shown interest since his freshman year of high school. The coaches scouted him this summer, but weren't able to offer Maruri the same opportunity he could find elsewhere.
Looking back, he thinks it may prove a blessing.
"Whatever happened, I think I'll feel happier," Maruri said.
The signing continues Elon's reputation for mining this region for talent. Maruri will follow in the footsteps of former Mamaroneck star Chris Vasami, who was drafted by the Colorado Rockies this summer after finishing his career at Elon.
Maruri will also join forces with Pleasantville pitcher Ken Ferrer, The Journal News' reigning Westchester/Putnam player of the year, and Brewster resident Jason Sinclair.
"I've known Kenny since we were 9-years-old," Maruri said of Ferrer. "Kenny is a kid who you want to surround yourself with."
Although he likes his chances to play immediately at Elon, Maruri isn't exactly sure where that will be. He's working on improving his speed in the 60-yard dash this offseason. If he can, he expects to have options beyond first base and third base, his current positions, maybe even at second base or outfield.
Of course, it's Maruri's bat that led Perfect Game to list him as one of its top 500 players in the country and helped attract so much attention from colleges. Maruri hit .483 with six home runs and 32 RBI as a junior at Stepinac, then batted cleanup at this summer's Empire State Games for the silver-medal-winning Hudson Valley baseball team.
"He's going to hit for them right away," Crusaders coach Pat Duffy said.
Maruri's commitment highlights a banner offseason for Duffy's program. Senior shortstop Eric Capowski committed to Iona last week and senior pitcher Greg Caruso is expected to accept a Division I or Division II scholarship this week.
"Our mission is obviously to win ball games," Duffy said. "But we also want to get these kids into good schools. We have some guys out there (in college), but this year's pretty special."