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It was a must-win game for the Eagles of Rocky Point to even the series and force a game three during the June 3 Class A finals, but the Sayville bats picked up the pace in the fifth and sixth innings to de-throne the defending Suffolk Class A baseball champions, putting the game away 8-3.

The Eagles, who defeated Shoreham-Wading River a year ago to capture their first county title in their program history, concluded their season 15-4 in their division. The Eagles will have their work cut out for them next season as they’ll lose nine players of their 15-man roster to graduation.

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Rocky Point freshman Sean Hamilton throws heat from the rubber against visiting Sayville May 2. Photo by Bill Landon

Miller brothers’ bats did the talking

Rocky Point’s baseball team took care of business against Sayville with a 5-2 victory at home May 2. With both teams at 6-2, the Eagles bettered Sayville two games to one in a three-game series to take over sole possession atop the league VI leaderboard.

Trailing by one, Sayville threatened in the top of the fifth, loading the bases when Rocky Point senior Michael Gunning took over at the mound. Gunning got the first out and then relied on his teammates behind him who turned a double play stranding all three Sayville runners to escape the inning. Rocky Point senior Trey Miller hit a two-run single in the bottom of the first to take the early lead and freshman Cody Miller, Trey’s younger brother, returned the favor in the bottom of the sixth to extend the Eagles lead.

By Bill Landon

On paper,  Kings Park’s boys basketball team — while sitting at 10-1 in league — should’ve had an easy time against Rocky Point at 2-8 in league, but the Eagles had other ideas Jan. 24. Rocky Point led by 10 points after eight minutes in then took an 11-point lead into the locker room. The Kingsmen sit atop the League IV leaderboard for a reason, and they came out firing in the 3rd quarter outscoring the Eagles 16-7 tying the game twice in the final quarter.

Trailing by two, Kings Park co-captain Andrew Bianco went to the charity stripe then swished both to tie the game at 46 all. Rocky Point forward Gavin DaVanzo was then fouled, sending the junior to the line with 4.6 seconds left in regulation. DaVanzo made one shot but missed the other, and Kings Park inbounded the ball for the final play launching a desperate shot that missed its mark. The Eagles erupted in celebration clinching a 47-46 victory at home.

Rocky Point freshman Ryan Smith led his team in scoring with four field goals and a pair of triples for a team high 14 points. Junior Kyle Callahan followed with 12 while DaVanzo netted a total of 10.

Bianco sat atop the scoring chart for the Kingsmen hitting four field goals and banking nine from the line for a total of 17 points.

With five games left in the regular season, the Eagles retake the court Jan. 26 against West Babylon before playing at home Jan. 30 against Eastport-South Manor. Kings Park has landed solidly in the playoff picture and is also back in action Jan. 30 where they’ll host West Babylon. Both Jan. 30 games tip off at 5:45pm.

*This post was changed to amend Bianco and shots.

By Bill Landon

Harborfields boys basketball team took an early lead and never looked back besting Rocky Point, 65-45, at the Tornadoes’ home  Jan. 10.

Harborfields senior forward Mike McDermott had the hot hand for the Tornadoes netting seven field goals and a pair of free throws to lead his team in scoring with 16 points. Tornadoes senior forward Joey Mitchell followed with a field goal, a pair of treys and 5 points from the line for 13 points while guard Jordan Robinson banked 10 points.

Rocky Point junior John Henry Dyroff led scoring for the Eagles with a pair of field goals, a triple and swished 7 from the charity stripe netting a total of 14 points.  Eagles junior Gavin DaVanzo sank 3 field goals and 2 triples to put up 12 points.

Both teams retake the court Jan. 15 with the Tornadoes traveling to take on West Babylon and the Eagles at home against Half Hollow Hills West. Both games tip-off at 5:45 p.m.

Rocky Point High School seniors tossed their caps off in celebration of achieving an education milestone during their graduation ceremony June 22.

The Eagles are officially soaring over the district, displaying decorated caps, some of which showed off where they will be taking their next educational steps and others that displayed words of encouragement like “Let’s fly with your beautiful wings” and “Don’t dream it, be it.”

Rocky Point class of 2018 valedictorian Connor Middleton and salutatorian Kyle Markland addressed the crowd, as did Superintendent Michael Ring and high school Principal Susann Crossan.

 

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Eagles fire on all cylinders to sweep Shoreham-Wading River for first Suffolk County championship title

By Bill Landon & Desirée Keegan

John Rosman was ready and eager to take home Rocky Point baseball’s first Suffolk County title.

The senior, who hit an RBI-double in the bottom of the second inning to start off the scoring, took a big lead off third two innings later on a grounder, and hesitated, freezing Shoreham-Wading River’s second baseman before darting home.

Rocky Point’s John Rosman dives for the plate and scores. Photo by Bill Landon

He squeezed his head-first slide in just in time to avoid the tag to give No. 2-seeded Rocky Point an early 4-1 lead in its 7-3 home win over No. 1 Shoreham-Wading River in game 2 of a best-of-three series Class A baseball championship May 29.

With his aggressive base running Rosman helped Rocky Point rake in its first ever county crown. The Eagles had topped the Wildcats 10-1 the day before, where the senior went 2-for-3 with two doubles.

“I’ve been running the bases aggressively all series — I had the confidence that I could get there and just let it happen,” said Rosman, who finished the day 1-for-2 with two runs, a walk and a stolen base. “You can’t make the game bigger than what it is. It’s just a baseball game; you’ve got to stay focused.”

Junior Rob Milopsky pitched a complete game, allowed six hits, one walk, two earned runs and struck out six to earn the win. The starter remained composed even with danger lurking, like when Shoreham-Wading River juniors Michael Smith and Mason Kelly crushed back-to-back home runs in the top of the sixth to bring the Wildcats within two. Milopsky fanned the next two batters to retire the side.

“It was everything I thought it was going to be,” the starting pitcher said of the game. “But I trusted my defense and threw my pitches. Just commanded the zone, gave it everything I had.”

“[You’ve got to give] credit to Shoreham, they can break out at any moment; they’re a dangerous team,” Rocky Point assistant coach Eric Strovink said. “You can’t be too comfortable.”

Eagles starting pitcher Rob Milopsky throws a pitch. Photo by Bill Landon

The offense backed up their starter in the bottom of that sixth inning with two more runs to re-extend the lead. Joe Grillo hit the ball through a gap to bring home Dillon Cassidy and Mike Gunning’s ground-rule double sent Grillo across the plate.

“Words can’t even describe [this], it feels great,” Grillo said. “I’ve been here a few times and never won, and now, we’re champions.”

Ryan Callahan also contributed an RBI-double in the first, and Ryan Maciaszek laid down a bunt that brought home Alex Bonacci for a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth.

Bonacci said he trusted Milopsky to get the job done even when the Wildcats (18-5) closed in.

“I knew he had it in him to go all the way — he looked great from the start,” the senior said. “I honestly had no worries. I knew we were going to get it done, and when it happened, it was awesome.”

The Eagles (20-5) will face Wantagh in the Long Island Class A championship Saturday, June 2, at 4 p.m. at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.

“They work harder than anybody out there — they deserved this, they’re an extraordinary group of kids and I’m so happy for them,” said Rocky Point Head Coach Andrew Aschettino. “It’s special.”

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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Eagles pitcher Kevin Sambuco picks up third straight win

Hauppauge’s Ryan Mackey slides safely into second ahead of Kings Park Jayson Sanchez’s tag. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Hauppauge’s Kevin Sambuco is solid from the mound.

The starting pitcher gave up five hits and two walks and struck out four to lead Hauppauge past Kings Park, 7-2, at home April 9. The win was the third straight for Sambuco, who picked up “W”s in the first games of the Rocky Point and Westhampton Beach series. In an 11-2 victory over Westhampton to start the season, Sambuco tossed six strikeouts over five innings.

“I just make sure I feel like I’m ready to go no matter who I face 60 feet away — it’s really just confidence and trusting your pitches,” Sambuco said. “Solid defensive plays behind me in big moments helped us hold onto the lead and helped us get out cheap.”

Hauppauge (4-3) grabbed an early 4-0 lead off two runs in the first and scores in the second and third.

Sambuco said despite his win in game one against Rocky Point, losing the series gave the team motivation to make bigger moves against Kings Park.

“We played how we were supposed to play,” he said, adding he felt relaxed at the mound given the early advantage. “We scored one to two runs every inning.”

Kings Park (3-3) was held scoreless through three innings, but cut the lead in half in the fourth.

After a base hit by center fielder AJ Fenton, the senior stole second and was brought home with junior second baseman Jayson Sanchez’s sacrifice fly to right field. With one out, third basemen Joe Tardino worked the count and drew the walk looking to keep the Kingsmen alive. The junior took second base on a passed ball at home plate and senior left fielder Rich Kim ripped the ball through a gap to score Tardino, but that was as close as Kings Park would come.

“We’ll need more energy,” Sanchez said. “We were dead from the first inning. But it’s one game, we need to shake this off.”

Kings Park starting pitcher Derek Shreve found himself in trouble in the bottom of the fourth inning with runners in scoring position. He came close to loading the bases, but threw strikes over the plate when he had to. The junior pitched himself out of the jam, stranding both runners on base.

Kings Park threatened in the top of the fifth after catcher Garrett Bower led off with a single. With one out, junior first baseman Paul Gugliuzzo was patient at the plate and drew a walk that sent Sambuco into the dugout. But Hauppauge’s error-free defense sent the next two batters back where they came from to end the inning.

Kings Park helped Hauppauge extend its lead on a wild pitch in the bottom of the inning, and the Eagles tacked on two more insurance runs in the sixth.

Hauppauge’s Brett Boller and Ryan Mackey each had two hits, and Mackey and Jeremy Contreras each had two RBIs.

“We really can’t dwell on the past — we can’t do anything about this one — this game is over,” said Kim, adding he too thought his team lacked intensity. “We’ve got to work hard in practice tomorrow and focus on the next one.”

The two teams face off in Game 2 April 11 at Kings Park at 4 p.m. and wrap up the series April 12 at Hauppauge at 4 p.m.

Desirée Keegan contributed reporting

The new team room at Rocky Point High School is meant to give student-athletes a sense of collaboration and camaraderie. Photo from Dan Spallina

By Kevin Redding

For years, Rocky Point High School physical education teacher Dan Spallina had a blank canvas in the form of an old weight room-turned-football storage space. But this past February, with the help of volunteers and supporters — including parents, students and faculty members — he completed and unveiled a state-of-the-art sports team room in the space’s footprint to be used for video breakdowns of players’ performances, halftime meetings, team gatherings and other school events.

Parents and students help Rocky Point coach Dan Spallina, on right, turn high school storage space into a sports team room. Photo from Rocky Point school district

As head coach of the girls lacrosse program, Spallina, a Rocky Point graduate, recalled visiting the room to pick up his players’ uniforms in 2015 and envisioned something better for the school’s athletes in the cramped and underutilized area. As the student-athletes were often relegated to unused classrooms, the hallways or the athletic field for meetings and team-building exercises, Spallina thought a more suitable space could be built in the spot — a plac for “collaboration and camaraderie.”

“I just thought, what if?” Spallina said.

So, in fall 2016, after receiving approval from the board of education, he rounded up a small, determined band of parent volunteers, with the help of the district’s athletic director Charles Delargy, to help configure, spackle and paint the space. Spallina said the volunteers regularly pitched in at night, after their full-time jobs and daughters’ lacrosse games, to help bring the roughly $4,700 project to light. Even a couple of players helped with painting.

What is now the Rocky Point team room used to be storage space after it was an old weight room. Photo from Dan Spallina

“When I say dedication, I mean dedication,” Spallina said. “The volunteers just wanted to help out and be a part in it. In my eyes, it was simply amazing.”

Together, they transformed a room previously used by teams to watch gameplay videos on a small television or an old projector against a white wall into a clean, open facility equipped with a full HD 4K projector, video screen, stadium seating and strip lights on step-down levels. The new complex has also been decorated with 3-D wood objects, framed inspirational quotes and artwork of the Eagles emblem and American flag.

“To have an idea, then see it being brought to life is incredible,” said Spallina, who presented the new room during a special celebration event in late February alongside Delargy. “My hope is that every athlete that steps into the room feels the sense of pride that it took to build. This is a truly special community and togive the student-athletes a room like this can only be positive.”

The construction phase of the Rocky Point team room was made possible the the help of parents and students. Photo from Dan Spallina

Delargy said when he came to the district a year and a half ago, he and Spallina quickly saw eye to eye about the room’s potential.

“One of the first things I did was stress with the teams and coaches about how helpful video is to prepare for games and for general improvement — and the storage area was the perfect place to do something like that,” Delargy said. “It turned out to be such a nice community project and the coaches and students are all extremely happy, because now they have a place to go. And with the 4K projector — it’s night and day.”

John Bellissimo, the parent of senior lacrosse player Christina Bellissimo and one of the lead volunteers who helped design the room, also noted the importance of the new facility, stating he feels every school district should have a dedicated space like the one at Rocky Point for its student-athletes.

“Of course, our job as parents is to provide our kids with every opportunity to be the best they can be, and help bring the goodness out of them,” Bellissimo said. “So, by having this team room, it’s going to foster the team spirit, togetherness and confidence, and really push these kids to understand what it means to work as a team. The feedback from the kids is that they love it. Because it’s new, nobody else has had it — it’s theirs. This is the room they needed.”

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