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Bill Landon

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By Bill Landon

Ward Melville’s Dennis Chen does it all for Ward Melville.

The sophomore solidified first-place finishes in the high jump and 110-meter hurdles, nabbing personal bests with each victory in the boys track and field team’s 74-44 home loss to Patchogue-Medford May 7.

Needing to clear 5-4 for the top spot, Chen said he drew energy from his competition to pull out his 5-6 leap.

“We push each other,” he said.

He clocked in at 15.9 seconds in the hurdles and won his heat in the 200 dash, it being the first time he competed at that distance this season.

The day of firsts continued when senior Danny Ryan crossed the 400 hurdles finish line in 59 seconds, which according to head coach Ryan DeLuca is two seconds shy of the school record. Junior Ryan Abbatiello came in first in the triple jump with a lead of 39-9.5, a personal best by almost a foot, DeLuca said. Although sidelined for the meet, middle distance runner Eric Zulkofske also pulled out a personal best at the St. Anthony’s Invitational over the weekend. He tweaked his quad in the last 70 meters of the 1,600 to finish third, but his 4:16.24 finish bested his previous record by two seconds. The senior made it to the state championship during the indoor season and qualified for the states in cross country in the fall.

“He tweaked his quad muscle while he was making a move to run down the leader,” DeLuca said. “I believe he would’ve [clocked] a 4:13, but it was visible in the video that he pulled up because of the injury.”

Taking his place in the 1,600 against Pat-Med, sophomore Ethan Winter’s 4:58 and junior James Moore’s 5:02 were both personal records.

Freshmen Minseob Kim and Jonah Komosinski both notched personal records in the 800 meters, with 2:14 and 2:15 times, respectively. Classmate Anthony Petrillo came in under five minutes in the mile. His 4:57.6 is a new personal best.

“He’s a young guy who’s been running some great races,” DeLuca said. “That’s a big step forward for him.”

The loss dropped the Patriots to 1-4 in League I this season. Ward Melville will travel to Sachem East May 9 for a 4:30 p.m. meet. The Freshman/Sophomore Championships are May 15, division championships will be held May 22-24 and the state qualifier will take place June 1-2.

“We have a lot of young talent, and a lot of kids driven to better themselves every day,” DeLuca said. “This team is a pleasure to coach and I am really looking forward to the upcoming championship season.”

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Boys track and field team guarantees piece of second straight outdoor league title with win over Southampton. Junior Kenneth Wei breaks two school records.

By Bill Landon

These type of Mustangs like to be pushed.

The Mount Sinai track and field team feeds off the pressure in practice — touting it as one of the main reasons the boys have been able to stay undefeated.

“We just have guys that work hard every day,” Sean Higgins said. “The coaches push us, and push us hard. They push us until we’re great.”

The junior was off to the races in a 102-34 win over visiting Southampton May 2, coming first in the 800-meter run and 1,600, and placing second in the 3,200. He also competed in the 4×400 relay.

His top finish was 5 minutes, 20 seconds in the mile.

“It’s not my best,” he said. “So we’ve got to get back to work and train that much harder.”

Junior Kenneth Wei on the other hand had two bests. He broke the school record in the long jump with 21-10.75 jump and triple jump with a 43-10.5 leap. He also finished first in the 110 high hurdles.

Head coach Lee Markowitz said Wei, who is at the top of his class, is the most coachable athlete he’s ever worked with, and defines what a scholar athlete is.

“Like my coaches say, it’s who wants it more,” Wei said. “It’s the desire to compete — to go up against the best of the best. It’s what drives us to keep going.”

Markowitz said Ryan Wilson is another junior who helps round out a strong, dedicated All-County class. Wilson is noted by his coach for his versatility.

“Ryan is a gifted distance runner who is always willing to help the team,” the coach said. “He excels in both the 400 and 800 events and is always ready to jump into the 1,600 or relay event if it means securing a victory for the team.”

Jack Pilon, one of seven seniors on a roster of nearly 60, said his 5-0 Mustangs benefit greatly from having so many tools in the toolbox.

“We have the depth,” he said. “Our sixth, seventh and eighth milers, they’re the ones out here with us every day doing the same amount of work, so I think that when other teams compete with us it’s difficult to keep up. We’ve got 10 guys that can go under five minutes in the mile — it’s hard to [compete] with that.”

Wilson also flaunted his team’s dedication while backing up his coach’s claim of his thirst for competition.

“Everyone comes to work and they train hard every day — they’re coming for their own reasons, whether it’s to get ready for another sport or to improve their best times,” he said. “We’re all trying to build the best program we’ve ever had. We have a strong program, but we’re also building for the future.”

Mount Sinai, now 5-0, remains atop the League VII leaderboard with one meet remaining. With the win over Southampton, the Mustangs have repeated nabbing indoor and outdoor league titles for the second straight school year. Mount Sinai is currently one win ahead of Elwood-John Glenn (4-1) and faces its rival May 8 at 4 p.m. for sole possession of the crown.

Markowitz said the practice atmosphere is contagious, as old and young push one another to build the future Wilson was talking about.

“It’s the work ethic — there’s zero complaining,” he said. “When they’re successful, it confirms for them that when we work hard, we win. We have a group, particularly of juniors, who if we tell them ‘You’ve got to run through a brick wall,’ they’ll say, ‘Ok.’”

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Marc Barbiglia rips the ball to right center field. Photo by Bill Landon

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. 

Winning pitcher Tyler Loft walks off the field after striking out three. Photo by Bill Landon

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.

Michael Ciminiello dives into third base safely. Photo by Bill Landon

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.”

Matthew Weirtheim takes a cut. Photo by Bill Landon

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 
additional noise.

Eric Swanson and his parents lead the Pleasantville and Shoreham-Wading River boys lacrosse teams out onto the field during the Lax Out Cancer fundraiser games April 28. Photo by Bill Landon

By Desirée Keegan

Cindy Swanson, of Shoreham, said she thought she’d never be so closely affected by cancer, but that changed when her 2-year-old son Eric was diagnosed with a rare form of the disease in March 2017.

Eric had a large tumor in his jaw, with additional bone lesions attacking his clavicle, elbow and C7 vertebrae. He was diagnosed as a multisystem Langerhans cell histiocytosis cancer patient — which affects one in 200,000 children — as the disease was attacking his lymph nodes and skin.

Eric was one of four beneficiaries of the Shoreham-Wading River 10th annual Lax Out Cancer event, which features lacrosse games, a dinner and raffle, the proceeds of which are donated to local families struggling as a result of the deadly disease.

The 2018 Lax Out Cancer fundraiser beneficiaries Port Jefferson Station’s Jackson, Miller Place’s Blake and Shoreham’s Eric. Photo by Bill Landon

“It’s very heartwarming,” Swanson said of the community support she received, especially at the April 28 event. “You always think that something like this is never going to happen to you, but it does happen to you. Things like this — it’s amazing, just the support for the kids to feel special.”

Eric is currently in the midst of 52 weeks of chemotherapy at Stony Brook University Hospital. Noted as a kind, caring kid with an infectious smile, the Shoreham resident loves playing with trucks and learning about dinosaurs, according to his mother. His favorite thing to do is pretend to be a fireman. He was walked out onto the field by two of them during the opening ceremony.

“I think that it’s a wonderful thing for the community to get together and help families in need, and we all know what these families are going through — they need all the help that they can get,” said Shoreham-Wading River Wildcat Athletic Club President Ed Troyano. “I think that it’s really a testament to this community when they give their time and contribute to the cause. When you look around today, you see the commitment and their time to put an event like this together — I’m grateful for all of the volunteers who do this year after year. I’m humbled by it.”

Blake Doyen, a 15-year-old Miller Place lacrosse player; 11-year-old Jackson from Port Jefferson Station; and 13-year-old Kaelyn McCandless from Lindenhurst were the other beneficiaries of the Shoreham-Wading River boys lacrosse game against Pleasantville, and the girls lacrosse game against Rocky Point. The boys junior varsity squad also faced off against the junior varsity team from Pleasantville.

“It’s huge to participate in the Lax Out Cancer event,” senior Shoreham-Wading River lacrosse player Tim Cairo said. “Pleasantville is a great team, and for them to come all this way for the cause today is great.”

Blake was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia in February, an aggressive acute leukemia that progresses quickly and affects the lymphoid-cell-producing stem cells, in particular, a type of white blood cell called T lymphocytes, which make antibodies that help fight infection. He has started intensive chemotherapy at Stony Brook hospital, where he will receive treatment for the next three years. Blake is an energetic and enthusiastic teen who, although not able to return to school or play lacrosse for the remainder of the year, is determined to fight this disease until he wins, so that he can get back to doing all the things that he loves, according to his family.

“You always think that something like this is never going to happen to you, but it does happen to you. Things like this — it’s amazing, just the support for the kids to feel special.”

— Cindy Swanson

Jackson, a second-time beneficiary of the event, taking part in it last year, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia — a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow with excess immature white blood cells — in December of 2013. He finished his treatment and was in remission, but cancer returned. He had to undergo intense chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, according to his family, and is struggling with complications from graft-versus-host disease, a condition that occurs when donor bone marrow or stem cells attack the recipient. Jackson, noted as a lover of sports, superheroes and video games, was in the hospital from December until March and will continue his chemotherapy treatment for the next two years.

Kaelyn has been fighting brain cancer for the last two years. She has received the maximum dose of radiation and chemotherapy, but her last two scans have shown something has returned at the tumor site. Doctors are in the process of planning their next course of action on the youngest of seven children.

“I’m thankful that I can be a small part of this — to be able to give back to the community,” Shoreham-Wading River head boys lacrosse coach Mike Taylor said. “I am very happy that we are continuing such a significant event. I feel so fortunate to have such a special group of parents, and a supportive community. It is very important to me to have our athletes involved in and understand the importance of being a concerned and productive community member. It is my goal as their coach to develop these young men into strong leaders, students, employees and family members through athletics and community service events.”

Former Lax Out Cancer proceed recipients also attended the event. So far, $1,540 has been raised of the $5,000 goal through a GoFundMe page. Visit to find out more about the recipients and to donate.

Bill Landon contributed reporting

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Richie Lacalandra cuts to the cage. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Behind the sticks of Richie Lacalandra and Chris Wolfe, Comsewogue powered past Half Hollow Hills West 13-7 April 27 despite a third-quarter scare.

The pair combined for eight goals and five assists, with Wolfe helping the Warriors regain the advantage by scoring his hat trick and fourth scores on feeds from junior T.J. Heyder (one goal, three assists) after Hills West rallied for three unanswered goals to close the gap 7-6 in the third. Lacalandra received an assist from Heyder and a pass from senior Sean Power in the fourth for his third and fourth goals of the game.

Chris Wolfe drives past a defender. Photo by Bill Landon

“[When they closed within two] we had to tighten up our defense — the offense was stalling a little bit so we had to work the ball around and attack the short [stick offensive players],” said Wolfe, a junior. “We knew they were missing one of their better defenders too, so we had to attack the weaker poles and try to get men open when we drew double [coverage].”

The Warriors’ defense had shut the door on the Colts before the flurry, holding them to three goals in the first half. Sophomore Tom Heller made 11 stops between the pipes. Head coach Pete Mitchell said his University of Albany-bound goalkeeper was facing some of the strongest offensive attackers in Suffolk County.

“They were everything we thought they would be — they have great shooters, great plays,” Heller said. “We watched film, saw the passing lanes, we kept our sticks up, knocked down a lot of passes and as a team our performance was outstanding.”

Lacalandra (four goals, four assists) said a well-timed break in the action helped his team regain its composure.

“When they closed [within] two goals coach called timeout and told us we have to pick up the intensity; they’re getting close,” the senior said. “Our offense picked it up — we began to click and we put in three or four right away.”

Power and Heyder scored goals in the final minutes. Junior Sean Kennedy finished with two goals and two assists.

Sean Kennedy passes to a cutter. Photo by Bill Landon

The Warriors improve to 8-2 in Division II behind No. 2 Mount Sinai and undefeated Islip.

With four games left in the regular season, Stony Brook University-bound Lacalandra said his team’s strategy to prepare for the postseason is simple.

“We want to win out,” he said. “We want the top seed, so if we can win out we’ll be in good shape.”

Mitchell, although pleased with his team’s performance on the night, said his Warriors will have their hands full, and it’ll take a total team effort as the temperature begins to rise. Comsewogue hosts Bayport-Blue Point (7-3) May 2 at 7 p.m. before traveling to Eastport-South Manor (5-5) May 5 for a 6:30 p.m. matchup. The Warriors will close out the season with a home game against Sayville and an away game at Mount Sinai.

“Richie Lacalandra is very dangerous, so they paid a lot of attention to him, but so long as our other guys — Sean Power, Anthony Passarella, Chris Wolfe and Nick Donnelly — are producing, we’re a little more well-rounded,” the coach said. “We have four games left and they’re all against very strong opponents, so we’ll need to stay in shape, stay focused, eliminate mistakes. It’s going to get hotter, so we’ve got to play more people, so the guys who haven’t been getting the runs, we’re going to need ‘em, so they’ve got to be ready.”

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Kate Timarky gets double-teamed. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Middle Country’s girls lacrosse team was able to hold off visiting Bay Shore twice behind four goals from Emily Diaz, to take a 12-9 win April 24.

“I knew that they were better than their record shows and I warned [our team about that], because they’re going to come in hot,” head coach Lindsay Dolson said. “I saw a lot of watching — we need to at least get the ball on the ground [off the draw] to give us a chance.”

Emily Diaz outruns a defender and breaks toward the goal. Photo by Bill Landon

The Mad Dogs struggled to gain possession and were pressured early behind Marauders draw wins, but still managed to put away three goals before Bay Shore got on the board. Juniors Sophie Alois and Jennifer Barry did all the work in that space, with Alois scoring twice, her second, off a flick from Barry for the 3-0 advantage, and Barry scored unassisted for the 2-0 lead.

As was the case throughout the game, Bay Shore was quick to answer, scoring two goals in just over a minute, and tied the game twice in the first half, at 5-5 and 7-7, which ended the scoring for the first half. Barry, who had a hat trick and added two assists in the opening 25 minutes, said she took her coach’s words to heart.

“Our coaches tell us before every game that you need to play every game as if it’s your biggest game [of the season],” she said. “We did a good job at settling down, spreading out [our offense] and if you have confidence in yourself and your play, then everything else will fall into place.”

Jennifer Barry draws a crowd as she pushes her way up the middle of the zone. Photo by Bill Landon

Youth and experience served up scores in the second half for Middle Country. Seventh-grader Kate Timarky, who had an assist in the first half, scored twice in 30 seconds to help her team regain the lead. Barry found Diaz, a senior, on a cut to the cage to score what would end up being the game-winning goal. She added two more thereafter to Bay Shore’s one to give the game its final score.

“We expected them to be better than what their records told us, our coaches are always good about informing us about other teams,” Diaz said. “We’ve been struggling at the draw control lately, but every game it gets a little bit better — we work on it in practice every day.”

Dolson said despite a less than ideal draw control performance, she said she was pleased with other aspects of her team’s play.

“[We did a good job of] holding the ball there at the end, [because] we’ve struggled keeping possession in the past, but we passed better,” she said. “They were more coachable, and I thought we handled the pressure a lot better.”

Middle Country improves to 7-2 and will be back in action April 27, when the Mad Dogs travel to Patchogue-Medford for a 4 p.m. contest.

The Eagles' 5-2 victory helps them remain atop the League VI leaderboard

Rocky Point's Trey Miller attempts to steal third on Kings Park's Joe Tardino. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

The Eagles know that if Joe Grillo has the ball, they’re in good hands.

The starting pitcher tossed seven strikeouts over six innings, not allowing a run on five hits, and walked three in the Rocky Point baseball team’s 5-2 win over visiting Kings Park April 23.

Rocky Point’s Joe Grillo hurls a pitch from the mound. Photo by Bill Landon

The senior put in work on both sides of the ball. He also went 1-for-2 with an RBI and two walks to help the Eagles remain atop the League VI leaderboard. Rocky Point sits at 8-2, while Kings Park drops to 8-5 after the first of a three-game series.

“Joe just had good stuff — he was pitching [for] contact, his pitch count was down,” Rocky Point head coach Andrew Aschettino said. “We certainly didn’t play our best baseball game today, which makes the win that much more satisfying. We’re capable of playing a more complete game. We struggled to get the blow to put the game out of reach.”

Rocky Point peppered the scoreboard across the first four innings to take a 4-0 lead into the top of the fifth, with almost everyone in the lineup contributing to the score. Grillo got on base with a walk to start things off in the first, and was brought home on a single by senior third baseman Mike Gunning. Grillo hit an RBI-single before stealing second with two outs in the bottom of the second, with sophomore short stop Dillon Cassidy on third, and after senior center fielder Ryan Callahan drew a walk to load the bases, Gunning was also walked to bring home Cassidy for a 3-0 lead. The final out was made to strand the rest of Rocky Point’s runners. After a scoreless third, junior catcher Alexander Bonacci knocked a double that drove in Callahan after he stole second for a 4-0 cushion.

Though Kings Park junior starting pitcher John Dougherty struggled early, Grillo got into some trouble of his own after allowing a single and a walk. Kings Park senior Rich Kim, who hit the single, stole third after classmate Brett Harmon’s walk to put runners at the corners, and junior Andrew Bianco brought them home with a shot deep to right field to cut the lead in half, 4-2.

Kings Park’s Garrett Bower rips the cover off the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

In the top of the sixth, the Kingsmen once again had runners on the corners with one out, but Grillo was able to force a pair of routine infield grounders to end the inning.

Junior left fielder Trey Miller hit an RBI-single that brought home Gunning after he gunned his way to third following his double to give the game its final score. the Eagles ended the game on a double play in the top of the seventh.

“Trey [Miller] coming in and getting some ground balls helped shut the door,” Aschettino said. “And we were able to close it out on our second chance at a double play, so to end it the way we did was huge.”

Grillo said even when Kings Park made it a two-run game, and despite having to pitch his way out of trouble twice, he never thought his game was in jeopardy.

“I had faith in my fielders at all times, and my arm felt good today — I felt confident the whole time,” he said. “[But we have to work on] our situational at-bats, we have to do a lot more to make better contact and if we continue to have sound pitching we’ll be there.”

Rocky Point travels to Kings Park April 25 for game two, which has a 4 p.m. start. The final game of the series is slated for 4 p.m. back on the Eales’ turf April 26.

Annual game against Mount Sinai memorializes the late alumna for her kindness, giving nature

By Desirée Keegan

Hundreds came out to show support for a local girl who gave to others.

In 2011, Rocky Point High School graduate Susie Facini died of a sudden heart attack. She was 19 years old. Since then, the Eagles and Mount Sinai’s baseball team have faced off each year to raise money for a scholarship in the name of a girl who was known for her immediate impact on everyone she met.

“All of them universally buy into what we’re trying to get across, and that is kindness,” said Facini’s father Peter, who tossed a ceremonial first pitch. “It takes courage to be kind sometimes — to step out of your comfort zone and reach out to somebody. And conversely, if you’re in trouble and you need help, you need to be able to ask somebody for help. It’s a difficult world and these kids give us great [hope].”

Without warning, Facini had felt her heart race, and passed out just seconds later. Despite efforts by her mother, Bernadette, a registered nurse, Facini was unable to be revived. The mother said she’s moved each and every year by how the community and the teams react to the game, especially now that most of the current student-athletes had never met her daughter.

“It comes down through the teachers, the parents; ‘Who is this girl, what does she mean to people and why?’ and they all do it proudly,” she said. “We are humbled by it every year and we’re shocked that it gets bigger and bigger. These are absolutely remarkable, nice boys. This event is really wonderful, and we’re lucky.”

Rocky Point senior pitcher and outfielder Ryan Callahan dedicated his time and efforts, taking part in the fundraiser that gathered $500 for the scholarship through food sales and raffles.

“I didn’t know her, but anyone you talk to says she was such a great person,” Callahan said. “I heard from everyone who’d known her that she was such an amazing human being, always so kind to everyone and left such a big and lasting impact on people. This is just our way to memorialize that.”

Jessica LaCascia, Facini’s longtime friend and classmate, said it’s the type of event her friend would’ve been first in line for.

“She would be dancing in the dugout like they are,” she said, pointing to the teammates that shook their hips to the music that played between each inning. “Susie was friends with everybody — there was not a stranger in her life. She was just such a bright light. Anytime she entered a room you couldn’t help but laugh; she commanded all of the attention. [I look around] and I don’t know anyone here, so I’m so thankful for all the people here coming out to celebrate what her life meant.”

Donations to the Live Like Susie Memorial Scholarship can be made in person or by mail to the high school at 90 Rocky Point-Yaphank Road, Rocky Point, NY, 11778.

Bill Landon contributed reporting

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Wolverines win crosstown rival battle in close finish

Newfield's Joe Rubenstrunk tags a Centereach runner out at second. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Back-to-back one-run innings put Newfield ahead to earn a 2-1 win over crosstown rival Centereach April 17.

Newfield pitcher Bobby Vath hurls a pitch. Photo by Bill Landon

Chandler Giovinco and Dylan Johnson both hit doubles to put Newfield on the board and tie the score in the bottom of the fourth, and Joey Rubenstrunk scored from second base off the bat of Michael Prisco on a fielder’s choice to put Newfield (8-1) ahead and earn the win in the bottom of the fifth.

“We did a good job at staying poised and focused and making the plays — whenever Newfield plays Centereach things get ratcheted up a little bit,” Newfield head coach Eric Joyner said. “That’s a good team. They came in hot, they put the ball in play and that put pressure on our defense, but [fortunately] they were able to step up and make the plays.”

Before the game even started things got off to a rocky start for Centereach, with the starting pitcher being scratched half an hour before the game as a result of an injury sustained during warmups. The ball was put in the hands of Mark Schnitzer, who went the distance. 

“I told him to focus. Stay composed and be confident — he’s a real pitcher and his mindset is, ‘I don’t care where I’m pitching, what time I’m pitching, I just want the ball,’” Centereach head coach Pete Cammarata said. “He was the best kid to go with after what happened today.”

Centereach’s Liam Webber slides into Newfield shortstop Kyle Johnson while he makes a play. Photo by Bill Landon

Centereach right fielder Devin Demetres started the first inning with a single to right field, then stole second before third baseman Ryan Mahnke smacked the ball through the gap on a full count to send him home.

Liam Webber drew a walk for the Cougars in the top of the third, moving Demetres over to second, and shortstop Ryan DeCoursey hit a sacrifice fly to put both runners in scoring position. With two outs, Newfield’s Giovinco tracked down a deep shot to right field, diving for the ball to come up with a catch that stranded both runners.

“The wind caught that ball, but I knew I had to make that play to help my team out,” Giovinco said.

The junior right fielder’s bat spoke next when he drilled the ball deep to left for a stand-up double in the bottom of the fourth. Johnson, a freshman, protected the plate before he jumped on a pitch he blasted to right field, plating Giovinco to make it a new game, 1-all. Centereach’s Demetres continued to keep himself busy, reeling in another hit to end the inning.

Newfield shortstop Kyle Johnson, Dylan’s brother, was hit by a pitch and took first to load the bases in the bottom of the fifth. Prisco hit an infield ground ball for what was a double-play situation, but the throw to second base was bobbled, getting the ball to first just seconds after the runner as Rubenstrunk dashed for home plate.

Centereach pitcher Mark Schnitzer goes the distance despite being called on to start 20 minutes before the game. Photo by Bill Landon

“Yesterday in practice we were working on getting good leads off the bag and [then sprinting],” Rubenstrunk said. “I saw the ball in play at second, so I took off for home.”

The Cougars bats went back to work in the top of the seventh, but Newfield’s starting pitcher Bobby Vath still had some spark left in him, and the senior retired the side in order by working the corners.

Cammarata said he now knows his team can compete with anyone, saying if one or two plays went the other way, Centereach would’ve come out on top.

“You’ve got to take your hats off to the other team,” he said. “[You put it in the past] and you move on to the next day.”

Centereach hosted Newfield in the second game of the series April 18, but results were not available by press time. Newfield returns to Cougars country April 19 for the final game of the series. The first pitch is scheduled to be tossed at 4 p.m.

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Mustangs remain perfect in League VII with 15-6 victory

Mount Sinai's Jared Donnelly crushes the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Jared Donnelly just keeps swinging away.

Mount Sinai starting pitcher George Rainer threw seven strikeouts in his win over Miller Place April 16. Photo by Bill Landon

The Mount Sinai senior designated hitter went 2-for-2 with a double, three RBIs and three runs scored to lead the Mustangs to a 15-6 win over neighboring Miller Place April 16. Senior first baseman Ryan Picarello was 2-for-3 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored to keep Mount Sinai perfect (6-0) atop the League VII leaderboard. Senior starting pitcher George Rainer walked three and allowed three earned runs while striking out seven over six innings.

“Our lineup has gotten much better — our one through nine can hit the ball really well,” Picarello said. “We looked the other way, we hit a few holes and we had some good swings.”

Miller Place’s Nolan White and Rob Morales had hits that led to scores in the first for an early lead, but starting pitcher Tom Nealis struggled against a fierce lineup.

Picarello, Donnelly, sophomore catcher Nick Cergol, senior outfielder Ethan Angress and sophomore infielder R.J. Kehoe’s recorded hits to get on base in the second to help Mount Sinai to a 7-3 lead.

The Panthers rallied once again in the top of the third, with Morales driving in Kevin Bowrosen, but Mount Sinai sophomore outfielder Paul Gomes extinguished any chance of a comeback when he rushed to shallow center field to make a diving catch on a rapidly dropping ball.

“I got a bad jump on it — my first step was back — so I had to make it up with that dive,” Gomes said. “It stayed in my glove and I made the throw. I got lucky.”

Miller Place’s  Rob Morales reaches for the ball to hold Mount Sinai’s Ethan Angress at first. Photo by Bill Landon

It was all the Panthers offense could muster, as the Mustangs got back to work with Kehoe, Gomes, Donnelly and sophomore second baseman T.J. Werner crossing the plate in the bottom of the third for a 6-run lead, 11-5. Rainer said he felt confident on the mound with his comfortable lead.

“Once we got ahead I just wanted to stay ahead in the count,” he said. “We just kept tacking on runs and that helped me a lot out there. Because it was so windy, I had to make sure I commanded my fastball.”

Head coach Eric Reichenbach said although his Mustangs (7-1 overall) have five shutouts so far this year and boast multiple sluggers, he thinks his team will need to work on playing a more complete game to be able to make a deep run. Donnelly is now boasting a .462 batting average and .576 on base percentage. He’s has 12 hits, 13 RBIs and 13 runs over Mount Sinai’s eight games. Picarello has 11 hits over eight games, driving in eight runs and scoring 12. He has a .478 average and .586 on base percentage.

“We got a good lead, especially through the first few innings, but then we took our foot off the gas,” Reichenbach said. “I like what I see out of my offense — I’ve got a lot of big bats in the lineup, they’re squaring up a lot of baseballs — and we’ve got some team defense.”

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