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Baseball

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Dan DeCastro rips one deep into the outfield. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Having beaten Longwood the day before by just one run, the Ward Melville baseball team invaded the Lions’ territory Tuesday and let its pitching and batting do the talking to prove the Patriots’ worth. When the dust settled, the Patriots handed Longwood a 12-2 loss in the second matchup of a three-game series.

Alex Betz hurls a pitch from the mound. Photo by Bill Landon
Alex Betz hurls a pitch from the mound. Photo by Bill Landon

Ward Melville sophomore pitcher Ben Brown led the way with an impressive performance on the mound to earn the win in his first varsity start. Longwood struggled with the entire Patriots pitching staff, managing just six hits. The Lions were also plagued by four errors over seven innings.

Ward Melville blew the game open in the second inning, scoring six runs on an RBI double by Dominic Lamonica, a two-run double by Troy Davern, and Nick Rizzi drove in a run and with the help of two Longwood errors to give the Patriots a 6-0 lead.

“Today our hitters did a good job in their approach; we got a lot of clutch hits,” Ward Melville head coach Lou Petrucci said. “Dominic Lamonica had a big double in the second inning; Jeff Towle, Troy Davern and the middle-of-the-lineup guys did a good job.”

The Lions tried to claw their way back and scored two runs in the bottom of the third.

Towle took control of the fourth inning, blasting a shot to deep center field, giving both Nick Vitale and Joe Flynn the opportunity to come home for an 8-2 advantage.

“Today, as a team, we had great bats all around putting the ball in play, making them work, putting pressure on their defense and that helped us out today,” Towle said. “[Longwood is] a solid team, but the ball didn’t roll their way. That could’ve happened to us, but we hit the ball hard.”

Flynn was also excited to see the team putting the ball in play.

“Today we came out swinging with the right mind-set; we had to put the ball in play and do whatever we have to do to win,” he said. “We’re not a strong hitting team and we’ve relied on pitching in the past, and that’s what we’re going to do this year, but today we came out with the bats and did a great job.”

Troy Davern makes a grab for the out. Photo by Bill Landon
Troy Davern makes a grab for the out. Photo by Bill Landon

The Patriots crossed the plate once more in the inning, to surge ahead 9-2.

Petrucci said he was pleased with his entire lineup.

“The top of the order guys — Joe Flynn got on base; Nick Vitale had a great day today — those guys got on base and did a good job for us,” he said. “The big hitters drove them in with clutch hits and we had more base runners and took advantage of that opportunity.”

The Patriots found the scoreboard once in the top of the sixth and twice in the seventh to put the game away.

Brown said his team misjudged Longwood in the first game of the series.

“I think we came out with a lot of intensity,” he said. “We took this team a little lightly yesterday. We really played hard, we had really good at bats, so that was the difference today.”

With the win, Ward Melville improved to 3-0. The Patriots conclude their three-game series with Longwood on Thursday at home, with the first pitch scheduled for noon.

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Kyle Johnson takes a cut during batting practice. Photo by Bill Landon

The Newfield baseball team is on the hunt for a postseason spot this year, and with several returning players from last years’ varsity squad, key seniors among them are shortstop Joseph Pepe and pitching ace Brandon Alberto, they may be able to do it.

Pepe, a returning All-League player, will likely fill the role of lead-off hitter as he did last season, and Newfield head coach Paul Pedersen expects him to be in the conversation of top player in League IV.

“This year we have better leadership; people are stepping up — we’re a stronger team,” Pepe said. “We open up against Half Hollow Hills West with three in a row, so that’ll set the tone of the season.”

Bobby Vath tosses the ball. Photo by Bill Landon
Bobby Vath tosses the ball. Photo by Bill Landon

Alberto, a four-year varsity player earning academic All-League honors last season, is one of the dominating pitchers in the league.

“He is a strike machine who can throw middle 80’s with multiple pitches for strikes, and is one of the most competitive personalities I have ever coached,” Pedersen said. Alberto will be attending the New York Institute of Technology on a baseball scholarship next year.

Alberto said that he was pleased with the dedication of the players; how hard they’re all working this early in the season. Alberto said Half Hollow Hills West is the team to beat in the league.

“They have a good pitching staff, good defense, good hitting,” he said. “So they’re the top dog.”

J.J. Lindgren, a senior outfielder and pitcher and returning All-League player, has a nice combination of power and speed, and according to Pedersen, will be one of the best players in a league that is stacked with talent. He will be playing at SUNY Old Westbury next year.

Pedersen also sees this years’ Wolverines team as being a tighter group of kids who have been working hard from the first day of practice, with two freshmen, Bobby Vath and Kyle Johnson, earning a spot on the varsity roster. Vath shows confidence on the mound with command of his pitching.

“He throws multiple pitches for strikes and understands the importance of hitting spots, changing speeds and getting ahead of batters,” the head coach said. “I think he is going to prove to be an asset to the program as he clearly shows that he knows what he’s doing on the mound.”

Brandon Alberto hurls a pitch during practice. Photo by Bill Landon
Brandon Alberto hurls a pitch during practice. Photo by Bill Landon

Pedersen expects sophomore third baseman and pitcher Tom Desena to serve as a power bat in the lineup and added that juniors Kyle Wappaus and Frank Diantonio both show a solid skill set behind the plate with the ability to hit the ball in big spots.

With a roster 18 players strong, including nine seniors, six juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen, the team has the senior leadership and veteran potential to improve on last season’s 7-13 overall record.

Pedersen said he has several notable returning players, including senior pitcher and infielder Justin Barnhill; senior outfielder and catcher Danny Towne; senior catcher and pitcher Jared Prevete; senior pitcher, first baseman and outfielder Jared Consiglio; senior infielder and pitcher Joe North; and senior outfielder Michael Ruggiero; all will be looking to contribute both offensively and defensively to the program.

“I think the biggest difference this year is the kids seem to be doing all the right things in the gym and there really doesn’t seem to be the ‘me first’ attitude,” Pedersen said. “There are definitely players that are more talented than others on the team, but every player will compete for a spot and earn their playing time.”

Newfield opens the season with two nonleague games against Miller Place, before beginning league play against Half Hollow Hills West on Tuesday, April 7.