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Jul 9, 2019 4:27 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Family Matters: Bloodlines Run Deep On Westhampton Aviators, Leading To Team's Success

Aviators, top left, Nick Bottari, GM Tom Pisaneschi, David Franchi. From bottom left, Jason Bottari, Brett Pisaneschi and Daniel Franchi. DREW BUDD
Jul 10, 2019 11:19 AM

Brothers, cousins, and even sons make up much of the Westhampton Aviators this season, and it begs the question: Has the family atmosphere surrounding the team led to its success?

From the players, coaches and general manager, the answer is a resounding “yes.”

The Aviators are in the midst of yet another successful summer in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, having sat in first place for much of the season and stand at 19-10-1, as of Tuesday afternoon. Barring a total collapse, the Aviators are in line for a postseason berth, with much of that due to the familiarity that surrounds the team.

Westhampton General Manager Tom Pisaneschi brought in his son, Brett, a Westhampton Beach High School graduate and former Aviator himself, to be the team’s pitching coach after finishing his career at Post University in Connecticut. Nick Bottari, the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2017, returned this season along with his younger cousin, Jason Bottari. And Daniel Franchi also returned for his second season in Westhampton and brought along his younger brother, David.

Tom Pisaneschi is big on family and familiar faces.

“Anytime I can bring back guys I’ve had in the past, I do it,” he said. “I have a lot of connections to these guys from when they were younger. [We] grew up with the Franchis. Daniel played with Brett, and his brother was right behind him, always there at the tournaments. So the opportunity to have them all play together was something I really wanted.”

And from the players’ perspective, knowing one another and having that tight-knit family feel makes all the difference. Having grown up in Westhampton, Brett Pisaneschi is almost like a big brother to a lot of the players in many ways, knowing all of the local hot spots and always being there for the players from out of town.

“It’s more like it’s a bunch of friends playing baseball, honestly,” he said. “All the guys are very close. I feel like no one really dislikes anyone, and it’s just going out there and having a good time together.”

Nick Bottari had to sit out his senior season at Southeastern due to multiple injuries, but redshirting his final year meant he would have one more eligible season to play summer ball. His first call, he said, was to Tom Pisaneschi.

“This is the first place that I thought of. It was really the only place that I thought of and it was really the only place that I thought of because I really wanted to enjoy my summer,” he explained.

Nick Bottari, a Wading River resident, is still rehabbing what is a groin injury and hopes to be back in time for the team’s playoff run. For now, he’s enjoying the summer and watching his younger cousin, Jason, a North Massapequa resident who attends at Albany. The Bottaris and the Franchis have actually played on the same team in previous summers through travel ball and, at times, played against one another, so the familiarity with everyone on the team goes deeper than just family bloodlines.

“In a lineup, any given day, you’ll see the two Franchis hitting right behind each other, you’ll see me and my cousin hitting right behind each other. It’s a cool atmosphere,” Nick Bottari said. “You see a lot of familiar faces and it’s exciting to play with all of these guys. Now I get to play with my cousin, and it’s just a cool atmosphere to be a part of.

“Having family ties, bloodlines on the team, I think it definitely brings us all together,” Jason Bottari said. “Me, personally, I was stoked to play with my cousin. He’s got a lot of experience. I can learn a lot from him.”

The Franchi brothers, Daniel and David, have rich baseball backgrounds, having graduated from Center Moriches High School. Daniel, the older of the two, graduated in 2015 and attends Binghamton University, while David, who graduated just last year, will attend NYIT after attending LIU Post last season.

Both brothers have had their fair share of success with the Aviators this season, Daniel, in particular. He set the new franchise record for hits with 76 in a victory over Sag Harbor on Friday, and is one of the top hitters in the league this season, sitting third in batting average (.336), second in runs scored (27), first in hits (39) and second in RBIs (23), leading to a selection in this weekend’s All-Star Game.

Having his brother on the team, along with some other friends, has certainly helped Daniel Franchi this season, he said.

“I think it makes it a little easier, a little more loose. You know people already. It’s a familiar feeling instead of meeting strangers for the first time. I enjoy it.”

Wins and losses take a back seat, Tom Pisaneschi said, when it comes to making memories with loved ones.

“It’s something that they’ll always remember,” he said. “It’s a unique experience to be able to play with your brother. This was [Daniel’s] last shot to do that, so I was glad we were able to play that through. Same thing with the Bottaris, it was the last shot they had to do that. I loved the idea that my son wants to be a coach and be involved, so that’s a beautiful thing. Carolyn and Richard Hook and Ann Marie and Doug Gubitosi, they do stuff as host families, so it really is a nucleus that we’ve kind of built and we’re happy with it.”

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