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From the Bench: Joe and Sam's Excellent Adventure on Baseball Field Wrapping Up with Style, Honors

By Jeff Toquinto on May 07, 2017 from Sports Blog via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Perhaps it wasn’t too surprising for those that know Sammy Aloi and Joe LaRocca that when they decided to make their announcement two years ago that they were continuing to play baseball at the next level that they did it at the same time.
 
The same folks probably weren’t even surprised that the signed at the same school back on May 1, 2015 in the Bridgeport High School library. After all, when you get right down to it Aloi and LaRocca have been playing baseball together and having success together since before they were double digits in age.
 
Now, they’re having continued success at Potomac State where their careers at the two-year school are getting close to coming to a conclusion. And much like all the time they spent on the youth league, Little League and every other league circuit until getting to BHS, they’re once again finding success in Keyser at Potomac State.
 
Most recently, at a baseball banquet LaRocca received the Dana G. Lough Award for the Male Athlete of the Year for the 2016-17 season in baseball.
 
“It was amazing honor. I didn’t expect it. I’ve been working hard in the offseason and training for times like these so it made all the work worthwhile,” said LaRocca. “I’ve been hitting well and playing well in the field with everything coming together so it really was nice to have others recognize the play.”
 
To no one’s surprise, Aloi joined him on stage for an honor too as he walked away with the Academic All-American honor for having a 3.93 grade point average. Aloi later added to that being named the school's human anatomy and physiology student of the year.
 
“I’ve had to put in more time for studies since I’ve been here and it’s paid off. My last semester, in the fall, I spent the majority of my time either in the library or the baseball field,” said Aloi.
 
LaRocca said he was as excited for his friend as he was for getting his own honor.
 
“It was actually pretty cool to see him get the academic honor; he earned it. He’s usually studying all time and I’m playing Xbox and listening to music, which forces him to leave our room,” said LaRocca with a laugh. “Outside of me probably annoying him when he’s studying, we don’t ever have a problem. We’re like brothers.”
 
Oh, did I mention they’re roommates for the last two years?
 
“We’re best friends and I wouldn’t have wanted to go through these two years with anyone else,” said Aloi. “We tell each other everything and we have that trust in one another that stretches onto the field. We’ve got chemistry out there because he knows I’ve got his back and I know he’s got mine. He’s absolutely like a brother to me.”
 
If they’re not blood brothers, then they’re bound by the same materials that make up a baseball – and just as tight. What has remained a common denominator throughout is that both have played key parts on teams that have been successful at every stop along the way of their athletic journey – including getting to wear Class AA state championship hardware with the Indians.
 
Success is continuing for the Catamounts. Heading into yesterday’s doubleheader with Cecil College, the team stood at 26-14. And both players have been key to the team’s success and have been – as starters – for the last two season.
 
LaRocca, who is studying business administration, has played in all 40 games this year prior to Saturday. He’s batting a crisp .303 and has 13 doubles, a triple and a home run to go along with 29 runs batted in.

Aloi, studying pre-physical therapy, hasn’t played in as nearly as many games, but it has nothing to do with talent as opposed to position. Aloi, like was in high school, is making his mark on the mound. This year, he’s appeared in nine games (heading into Saturday’s twin bill), including three games started. His numbers show a 5-0 record in 36 innings pitched with a solid 2.50 earned run average.
 
While the numbers are good, there’s nothing definitive for either at this moment other than two things. They both know they want to continue playing their final two years of baseball eligibility and they both know the possibility is real that for the first time since their years battling it out together for the Bridgeport Little League All Stars they may be in different dugouts this time next year.
 
“I’ve contacted with Fairmont State and several other Division II schools in West Virginia. I might try to walk on at West Virginia University, but I’m not sure about it,” said LaRocca. “I don’t know for sure if it’s where I’ll end up, but Fairmont State looks pretty good right now.”
 
Aloi’s future is also up in the air. He said he’s hoping his versatility on the mound – he’s started, middle relieved and closed during his time in Keyser – will be a benefit.
 
“I would love to go to West Virginia, but I don’t’ think I have a chance to pitch there. I’ve been talking with Fairmont State and I feel confident I could play there and I’ve been in email contact with (Division I) Morehead State. I’d go there in a second,” said Aloi, who would be reunited with former teammate and friend Hunter Fain who caught Aloi at BHS. “West Virginia State has shown some interest, but that’s about it.”
 
They both know they could be back close to home playing for the Maroon and White. And they both know it may be at other venues. Whatever happens, the friendship will remain strong.
 
“It’s been a great experience to play with your best friend as you grow up. That’s helped with everything, including getting acclimated to the new environment up here,” said LaRocca. “He’s been my friend since I’ve been nine-years-old or so and no matter what the future holds we’ll still be in touch and be friends.”
 
Aloi echoed a lot of that.
 
“(Joe coming here) made it a lot easier to make the decision to come to a small town like Keyser that’s really been a lot of fun. We acclimated to college life together and that was a help,” said Aloi. “I’ve got no regrets at all; this was the best decision of my life. Small town, small college and small classrooms with good competition and coaching on the baseball field with Joe there for the ride. Those honors are nice, but having a friend there is pretty good too.”
 
Editor's Note: Top photo shows Joe LaRocca, left, and Sammy Aloi, right receiving their recent team honors from Potomac State. Second photo shows LaRocco in the field for the Catamounts, while the next picture shows Aloi working off the mound for PS. The next two photos of Aloi and LaRocca, resepctively, are from their time as members of the Indians baseball team. Bottom photo shows the pair when they were teammats for the Bridgeport Little League All Stars. High School photos by Ben Queen of www.benqueenphotography.com. Other photos submitted and taken by Joe LaRocca Sr.


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