April 3, 2019

Continuing a Family Tradition of Coaching, Capuano Excited to Be Guiding PHS Baseball

OPENING SALVO: Princeton High baseball player Tommy Reid follows thorough on a swing in a game last spring. Senior outfielder Reid helped PHS give new head coach Dominic Capuano a memorable debut as the Tigers routed Trenton 17-2 in its season opener last Monday.  Reid went 2-for-4 with four runs scored and two RBIs in the win. In upcoming action, PHS hosts Piscataway on April 3, plays at Steinert on April 5 and Hightstown on April 6, and then hosts Notre Dame on April 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Dominic Capuano, coaching is a family business.

“My dad coached in baseball for 30 years in the American  Legion league and my uncle still coaches,” said Capuano.

“I started coaching when was still in school, playing summer ball.”

After graduating from The College of New Jersey in 2012, Capuano took a job as a physical education teacher at Johnson Park Elementary and then moved to Princeton High. Once at PHS, Capuano plunged into coaching, serving as an assistant for field hockey, girls’ hockey, and baseball.

Capuano’s experience pitching for the TCNJ baseball team influenced his coaching approach.

“Everything I have done as a coach has always been based off of my college experience,” said Capuano.

“How we did things in college is how I pretty much do things here. It changed me in every single way.You learn so much more when you are playing a college sport because it is all year round. It has shaped me in every way.”

This spring, Capuano is taking the helm of the PHS baseball program after Dave Roberts stepped down to spend more time with his young family.

“Dave really helped me out, showing me different things and setting the program up for success in his last couple of years,” said Capuano, who enjoyed a successful head coaching debut as PHS routed Trenton 17-2 in its season opener last Monday.

“He has been really helpful to me. I was a little shocked when he told me he was stepping down but then I was excited to follow him.”

In adjusting to the head coaching role, Capuano is learning that it is an all-encompassing enterprise.

“The biggest thing for me is that my mind doesn’t really shut off,” said Capuano, who is taking over a program that went 13-9 last year and advanced to the Mercer County Tournament semifinals.

“On my drive to work, I am thinking about things we have to do at practice. After practice, I am thinking about what we are going to do tomorrow. It is more of a full-time mental gig for me than anything else.”

Looking ahead to his debut campaign, Capuano believes the PHS pitching staff can do some good things this spring, anchored by seniors Ben Amon and Teddy Durbin.

“The pitching stands out as a strength, we are returning guys who did very well last year that are our leaders now,” said Capuano, noting that Amon and Durbin are serving as team captains along with classmate Tommy Reid.

“They are going to be key to our success. Ben is coming along really well, fine-tuning things here or there and I know what I am going to get out of Teddy.”

Capuano is hoping to get some good mound work out of some of his other veterans,

“We have a bunch of junior and senior pitchers who are really going to be relied upon,” added Capuano, noting that junior Jay Ramirez, junior Aiden Regan, senior Holden Livi, and senior Owen Seals should all get innings.

“They may not have pitched too much but their progress has been great and they are really going to be trusted to close games for us.”

PHS will be relying on senior leader Reid to jumpstart its hitting attack.

“Tommy Reid is going to play a big role for us,” said Capuano of Reid, who went 2-for-4 with four runs scored and two RBIs in the win over Trenton.

“He has gotten us some really good at bats in the scrimmages. He is going to be at the top of the order all year.”

While Capuano is still fine-tuning his batting order, he believes that PHS can pile up runs.

“We have got a lot of guys who have potential and some good things have happened,” said Capuano, who is expecting senior Eli Okoye, junior Guatam Chawla, sophomore Flynn Kinney, junior Justin Pormilli, along with Seals, Delany, and Durbin to provide punch. “We are still in the process of figuring out the order.”

Capuano has figured out his defensive alignment,  which will feature Chawla and freshman Carl Birge at catcher, freshman Kenny Schiavone at third, Kinney and Delaney up the middle at short and second, with Livi, Durbin and Seals sharing duties at first. In the outfield, Capuano has a crew consisting of Reid, Judd Petrone, Okoye, Livi, and Pormilli.

In Capuano’s view, the key to PHS having another winning season could come down to developing team unity as much as the pitching, hitting, and fielding.

“The big goal that we are talking about is having a culture of sticking together and trusting each other,” said Capuano.

“Teddy, Ben, and Tommy are doing good job of leading our team. They are the three guys that are going do it mentally and do it on the field. I do think there is starting to be a different  attitude with the success we have had the last couple of years.”