By Bill Landon
Marc Barbiglia is used to giving Smithtown East fans something to cheer about.
On Tuesday, the senior’s bat was the difference maker. Barbiglia belted a two-run single to right center with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning to help the Bulls to a 7-5 road win over Walt Whitman.
Tyler Loft, who earned the win, took over on the mound in the bottom of the sixth, allowing no runs on no hits, striking out three and walking none.
“Whitman’s a very good team — they’ve got very good pitching, they played well, they battled, but we just came out on top,” said Barbiglia, who leads his team in RBIs (14) and is batting a .415 on 41 at bats. “We just wanted to play strong defense, stay behind the pitcher — we know he’s got great stuff — we stayed positive out there, kept the ball in front for easy plays.”
Loft said his team was in similar situations through two close wins over Half Hollow Hills East (7-6 and 8-7) back in April. He said he knew his game was all mental.
“I stayed confident, believed in my pitches,” Loft said. “I felt great out there today. I was hitting my spots [with] whatever the catcher was setting up — it was one of those days.”
Smithtown East let a three-run lead slip away when Walt Whitman scored in the bottom of the fourth, and the Bulls came out scoreless in the top of the fifth still leading 3-1.
The Bulls gave up four more runs before head coach Ken Klee summoned Nicholas Harvey to take over on the mound with one out. He walked his first batter, working with his twin brother Justin his battery mate, but the pair was just warming up. Nicholas Harvey struck out the next batter for the second out, and Justin Harvey fired the ball to second base in time for the Walt Whitman runner to be tagged out to end the inning down 5-3.
Walt Whitman gave the Bulls a gift in the top of the sixth when a passed ball at the plate helped sophomore Michael Ciminiello score from third to make it a one-run game, 5-4.
“[Whatever the record is you] go in and play hard — you can’t take any team lightly,” Ciminiello said. “You go out there, do [your] best and keep playing the game.”
With the 7-5 win Smithtown East improves to 14-1, but Klee said the goal is much bigger than that.
“We need to get better — that sounds like it’s nitpicking, but we want to be the best team,” the coach said. “But obviously the last couple of innings we showed grit to come back again for the second day in a row. It’s certainly a credit to the kids.”
Especially Barbiglia, who hit big for the second day in a row. He went 2-for-3 and scored the game-tying run in the sixth inning in a 3-2 win over Bay Shore April 30.
“Mark got that big hit that’s two days in a row — he’s the guy we know is going to come through in a situation like that,” Klee said.
The senior’s bat just keeps on cracking, and the crowd continues to supply some