Having a brother is one of the greatest gifts you can ever receive. You can tell them anything. Growing up and becoming best friends though, there really isn’t anything better. That’s what you have with Hunter and Connor Desiderio.
Hunter is two years older than Connor and since either can remember they’ve not only been brothers and best friends, they’ve also been teammates. “I started playing baseball when I was five,” Hunter said. “It was just tee ball but Connor was around all the time so he played too. We have all the same friends and it’s the same circle, lots of baseball together.”
Last Saturday, the Desiderio brothers, two cogs in the Maryvale Flyers baseball pitching rotation claimed the Section VI Class A title against the heavily favored Williamsville East Flames. It was truly a David versus Goliath match-up but don’t say that to either of the Desiderio’s. “They are a great team, they have three guys going D1 for baseball but we knew our team,” Connor said. “The last week or so something just clicked for us. It might have started with the Pioneer game and then Lew-Port, where everyone was hitting, we knew we had good pitching and defense we just weren’t hitting like we could. Those two games really were what brought us more together. We haven’t had that spark all year but it’s there now and we feel like we can beat anybody.”
That’s a sophomore talking. One that has already seen his fair share of big games. Connor, as you may have already heard is also the starting quarterback for the football team. As a freshman, the younger brother dazzled legions of WNY high-school football fans with his cannon for an arm. Last season he helped guide the Flyers all the way to New Era Field, home of the Buffalo Bills. They took a tough Cheektowaga team to overtime where eventually a goal line stance ended Maryvale’s storybook run.
Hunter was there, not just because Connor is his brother but because he’s one of his biggest fans. “It’s been a lot of fun watching him do what he does.” Hunter said, he’ll be attending Erie Community College next fall to pursue a career in computer programming. “I’ll be coming back to his games to watch him play, definitely.”
Right now though, the focus is on delivering Maryvale its first state baseball title in school history. The Flyers won’t know until late Tuesday who their opponent will be. They do know they will play on Saturday at Orchard Park. “We have today (Sunday) and tomorrow off, but then we’ll practice right through the rest of the week,” Hunter said.
Hunter and Connor have played for assistant coach Paul Tripi since his early days in the North Cheektowaga little leagues. “Coach Tripi, Coach (Dan) Flick, Coach (Charlie) Amato and our Dad have been right along for the whole ride, since we started playing. There are about eight of us all on this team that have been playing together all the way through. I was a freshman when they (Maryvale) last won the Section. I was called up during my sophomore year but it was an early exit and then another early exit last year so it’s good to finally win it again and be a part of it. Winning State’s would mean everything to me and the seniors especially,” Hunter said.
A big part of the win over Will-East this past Saturday was the emergence of DeAnte Mecca. “He was banged up for most of this year and he really surprised us with how well he threw, it was impressive,” Hunter said. The older Desiderio did not throw a pitch, but Connor came in for the save. The first batter he faced was Joey Mack, a freshman who, like his older brother Charlie, already has an offer from Clemson University. Desiderio got the younger Mack to pop-out and then struck out the next batter, senior Sam Pastore who also carries a big bat.
In the seventh, Desiderio faced both Mack brothers and Pastore once again. He struck out Charlie with a low-hanging curve ball, but the older Mack was able to reach base on a dropped third-strike.
Joey Mack then hit a line drive right to the second basemen who fittingly fired the baseball over to first base before Charlie could get back. Pastore then flied out to right field, ballgame over. “I challenged them, went right after them. I believe my stuff is better than their stuff, it’s just my mentality. That’s who I am as a competitor, I’m not afraid,” Connor said. “I feel like I have a bigger responsibility then most.”
Connor gives a lot of credit to his longtime pitching coach Marty Szymanski. “He’s taught me everything, he always says to attack the hitters and that’s what I try to do.” Connor certainly took that advice to heart when he battled the Flames lineup with a Sectional title hanging in the balance. It’s that kind of gutsy performance that leads you to believe the football team could find equal success next season.
But nobody on the Maryvale baseball team is interested in talking about football right now. Hunter isn’t looking past the next game either. I brought up the subject of attending the school prom but that was the farthest thing from his mind, “I’m really not going to be upset about missing it,” a smiling Hunter said. “Obviously we have to win another game to even have to worry about it but I’d rather be playing for a championship and if I miss it, that’s what I’ll be doing.”
Connor and Hunter have as healthy a relationship as any two brothers. “I never really had to protect him because he’s pretty strong already. All my friends were his friends,” Hunter said.
Last November the brothers welcomed a baby sister. And although neither has offered to help change diapers, they say the new addition has been a good experience for them. The baby came early too, the family was attending the football banquet when baby Camryn decided she was ready to meet them.
The boys definitely want to get into coaching one day themselves. “I want to be a teacher actually,” Connor said. “I really like being in school and wouldn’t mind working with kids. I would love to come back here and coach one day.”
I get the sense that the Maryvale community would like to see that happen.