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Bayport-Blue Point

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Mustangs outscore Bayport-Blue Point 38-16 for homecoming victory

Losing senior halfback JoJo Pirreca to injury last week was a huge blow to Mount Sinai’s football team, but a junior fullback stepped up to fill the void.

Fullback and linebacker Mike Sabella scored four touchdowns, one coming on a 35-yard interception return, and added a fumble recovery to lead the Mustangs (4-2 in Division IV) to a 38-16 homecoming win over Bayport-Blue Point Oct. 14.

Mount Sinai’s Mike Sabella dashes into the end zone for a homecoming touchdown Oct. 14. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“It’s a huge win for us after last week’s loss,” Sabella said. “We came together after losing at home and put up big numbers against a competitive team. We needed someone to step up when our halfback went down, and we had multiple players come ready to contribute.”

Sabella was quick to share credit despite totaling 191 yards rushing on 17 carries and returning a kickoff 80 yards for Mount Sinai’s first touchdown of the day.

“Obviously, nothing is more important than coming out and getting the win,” Sabella said. “The numbers I put up and the plays I make don’t matter unless the end result is a win. It was a bit sweeter knowing I played at a high level, but in the end winning the game is what really matters to the team and I.”

Although Bayport-Blue Point got on the board first, Sabella’s kickoff return to the house was a quick answer.

“Running down the field and beating 11 guys for an 80-yard touchdown, there’s not much you can do in a football game that is more exciting than that,” Sabella said. “Celebrating with my teammates in the end zone was an amazing feeling.”

Mount SInai’s Liam McGrath walks in a touchdown during the homecoming football game Oct. 14. Photo by Desirée Keegan

On his pick-six, which gave Mount Sinai the lead for good at 14-7, Sabella said he dropped back to watch for the slant route, which he said Mount Sinai’s coaches stressed in particular to watch for during practice.

“I saw the quarterback drop, got underneath the receiver’s slant route, and the football got thrown right into my hands,” he said. “Taking that interception to the end zone felt just like that kickoff return; it’s something teams just can’t account for. Those are plays that aren’t supposed to happen, and it felt great to make it happen and take that into the end zone.”

During its week of preparation Mount Sinai focused on Bayport-Blue Point’s potent passing attack. The Mustangs defense caused five turnovers, including additional fumble recoveries by Thomas Bokinz, Kevin Johnston and Antonio Palmiotto to go with Sabella’s two takeaways.

“My team executed the game plan the best we could today, and that result of that showed on the scoreboard at the end of the game,” Sabella said. “All week we focused on Bayport’s throwing game, and we caused a lot of struggles for their offense throughout the game, so credit to the coaching staff. On offense, we had a great performance from the linemen, which led to success in the running game. When we execute the game plan we set during the week, we are a very difficult team to deal with.”

Mount Sinai’s Thomas Bokinz holds back a tackler to protect his running back during the homecoming football game Oct. 14. Photo by Desirée Keegan

Mount Sinai junior running back Liam McGrath rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries to officially put the game out of reach. He said the continued support from the audience helped carry him into the end zone.

“It felt great to play in front of the town,” he said. “From the opening touchdown the crowd brought great energy to the team and it definitely set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Sabella said seeing his squad come away with the total team win is a big confidence booster for the important games ahead. Mount Sinai travels to Miller Place (5-1) Oct. 20 for a 6 p.m. game. The Panthers are fresh off a homecoming win of their own over previously undefeated Shoreham-Wading River. The Mustangs will head to Greenport (0-6) Oct. 27 for the final game of the season, currently scheduled for 6 p.m.

“Knowing we have two games left to play in this year’s regular season and we’ve already passed last years win total makes me feel great about our team going forward,” Sabella said. “We’re gaining momentum at the right time, and we’re going to continue to get better every week for playoffs. I believe if we continue on the path we’ve set ourselves on, we can really make some noise this postseason.”

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Mount Sinai edged out Bayport-Blue Point, 9-6, for the program's third consecutive Suffolk County Class C title. Photo by Desirée Keegan

With her team’s early 3-0 lead turning into a 5-3 deficit, Meaghan Tyrrell knew somebody had to take charge.

“I got the ball in our offensive end, and I knew somebody had to do it,” Tyrrell said. “And I just stepped up.”

She had a five-goal performance and two assists to lead Mount Sinai’s girls’ lacrosse team to its third consecutive Class C county crown, with 9-6 win over Bayport-Blue Point May 30. The junior scored unassisted to pull her team within one, 5-4, and assisted on senior Leah Nonnenmann’s game-tying goal less than 30 seconds later. She knew her team was on its way to the Long Island championship as she raised her hands toward the sky following two unassisted goals soon after her assist.

Meaghan Tyrrell moves the ball into Bayport-Blue Point’s zone. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“We wanted this so bad,” Tyrrell said. “We know Bayport, we’ve seen them before, but each time it’s different. When they started coming back we realized something had to change.”

The key was not only Tyrrell taking charge, but locking down on defense, and the Mustangs had one of the county’s top defenders in senior Emily Vengilio to do just that.

“We never give up,” Vengilio said. “[Bayport-Blue Point has] a great offense, so we knew our defense had to step up. Three years ago when we lost to them [11-9 in the county final] in the last 10 minutes, we knew what it felt like, so we fought hard to make sure it didn’t happen again.”

Phantom Kelsi LoNigro was the target, and Vengilio and twin sisters Meaghan and Kirsten Scutaro made every step the senior tried to take difficult.

“Our kids are tough — they’re all veteran players,” Mount Sinai head coach Al Bertolone said. “We tried to take [Kelsi LoNigro] out of the mix because she’s a catalyst for their offense.

We took their best punches. At the end of the day you have to have kids that fight, and they fought.”

Mount Sinai jumped ahead 3-0 with two goals from senior Veronica Venezia. Tyrrell assisted on the first and scored the second goal of the game. But Bayport-Blue Point picked up steam to tie the game by halftime. Nonnenmann said her teammates were in their own heads, including herself — even while racing toward the circle to grab a pass from Tyrrell for her goal that made it 5-5.

Meaghan Tyrrell scores. Photo by Desirée Keegan

“I was thinking ‘I should get this,’” she said. “I had a lot of pressure on my shoulders. But when it was me and the goalie I knew I had it.”

Mount Sinai’s objective just a couple of years ago was to “prove people wrong.” Now, the Mustangs are synonymous with championship-level lacrosse.

“We’d always been overlooked, but that’s changed now,” Vengilio said. “We wanted to make the full circle. Each win feels great, but this one especially. Now we’re definitely on top.”

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The Wildcats will play in the Long Island championship June 3

The Shoreham-Wading River baseball team dogpiles following its 8-1 win over Bayport-Blue Point, to complete a series sweep for the Class A Suffolk County crown. Photo by Alex Petroski

The Shoreham-Wading River baseball team utilized a familiar formula to extend its dominant season beyond the Suffolk County Class A final May 26 — equal doses of the long ball and the powerful right arm of senior ace Brian Morrell.

Brian Morrell hurls a pitch from the mound. Photo by Alex Petroski

Morrell put a cherry on top of his special senior season with a complete game, 11-strikeout performance to stymie the Bayport-Blue Point bats in an 8-1 victory. He also went 3-for-5 at the plate including a second-inning grand slam — his second in three games — finishing just a triple short of the cycle. The win was the 20th in a row for the Wildcats, which completed the sweep of Bayport-Blue Point to close out their Suffolk County schedule 24-1, with an eye on more pieces of hardware.

“His breaking ball was really dynamite — that’s a tough pitch to hit,” head coach Kevin Willi said of Morrell’s stuff on the mound Friday. “He’s throwing it in all counts — not afraid to throw it 3-2 to guys; and it was really effective.”

Willi reflected on coaching the dominant two-way player during his memorable career.

“It’s nice, it’s easy,” Willi said of coaching Morrell. “He’s a good kid too on top of that. He’s always team first.”

Shoreham-Wading River’s baseball team celebrates its Class A Suffolk County championship win. Photo by Alex Petroski

The ace, who has committed to play ball at the University of Notre Dame next season, said his whole arsenal was working in the victory.

“I just commanded my fastball, that’s really how I started off every batter,” he said. “Every pitch I really felt confident in. I knew if I threw strikes I was going to come out with the ‘W.’”

Morrell scattered three hits over the first two innings, then didn’t allow another over the final five frames. He set down 10 straight Phantoms at one point, before loading the bases with two walks and a hit by pitch to start the sixth. A fly out and two strikeouts ended the threat and maintained a seven-run lead.

“He was throwing really hard and painting corners,” senior catcher Thomas Brady said of his battery mate’s performance. Brady kicked off the scoring with a one-out, two-run homer in the top of the first. He and Morrell combined to drive in seven of the Wildcats’ eight runs. “Honestly, when me and him get in our rhythm, we’re the best duo,” Brady said. “It’s really hard to hit Brian obviously.”

Brian Morrell rounds the bases after hitting his second grand slam in the last three games. Photo by Alex Petroski

Despite Morrell’s consistency on the hill, Willi said the team was driven by its offense in 2017.

“All season we’ve had a really heavy senior class — a lot of guys working hard for very many years to get to this point,” he said. “We put together a lot of great pitching performances, we played great defense at times when we needed it, and really the story of the year was the bats. We scored a lot of runs.”

The Wildcats will face the winner of the Nassau County championship series between Wantagh and Garden City. The Long Island championship game will be played June 3 at SUNY Old Westbury at 12 p.m.

Brady said he’s not sure it matters who Shoreham-Wading River squares off against next.

“Whoever we play, they’re not going to stop us right now,” he said. “We’re hot, we’re playing hard. We became a team, and I’m proud of all of these guys.”

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They waited nearly 365 days for this moment, and the redemption was sweet.

The Mount Sinai girls’ lacrosse team rattled off four unanswered goals in the first half en route to a 7-4 win over Bayport-Blue Point Tuesday to claim the Suffolk County Class C title.

After going undefeated at 14-0 in Division II last season, the girls made it to the same spot on the same Dowling College field and lost, 11-9, to the same Phantoms team.

This year, after that loss, and especially after falling to St. Anthony’s just weeks before the big game by one point, for their second loss in the last three seasons, the girls had a different mind-set.

“Since we never lost, a lot of our girls didn’t think it was possible for us to lose — losing opened a lot of the eyes of the younger girls,” senior attack and midfielder Kasey Mitchell said. “Our most important thing was to come back this year more confident than cocky.”

Still, Mitchell was not going to let her team fall to the Phantoms again.

“We couldn’t lose,” she said, laughing through her smile as she thought about the redemption win. “I was not leaving here if we lost; it wasn’t happening.”

Sophomore goalkeeper Hannah Van Middelem opened the first with a big stop before freshman attack Meaghan Tyrrell scored off an assist from Mitchell, for the team’s first goal with the game less than five minutes old.

Van Middelem came through with another save, and on the next scoring play, Tyrrell passed the ball from behind the net to senior midfielder and co-captain Sydney Pirreca, who charged her way up centerfield for the score and a 2-0 advantage.

“We used that motivation from losing last year — that hurt, that pain — and we used it for this game today, for sure,” Pirreca said. “From the start, I was saying that we had to come out fast, we had to come out strong … That scares any team, and that keeps our confidence up.”

Freshman attack Camryn Harloff was next to score for the Mustangs, and Mitchell followed with a free position shot past the keeper for a 4-0 lead.

Minutes later, Van Middelem made another save.

“I felt confident in net, and everyone else played great, so it helps with the confidence,” said the goalkeeper, who made five of her six saves in the first half. “Our defense played great today.”

With 1:42 left to play in the half, Bayport-Blue Point scored its first goal of the game, and with 9.7 seconds left, Van Middelem made another stop to keep the score 4-1 heading into the halftime break.

“We went 365 days and 360 degrees,” Mount Sinai head coach Al Bertolone said. “I left my heart out on this field last year and it’s been a long year. You have to get back here and you have to redeem yourself a little, and I thought they did a great job.”

The Mustangs opened the second by adding onto their advantage, when Pirreca passed the ball to junior midfielder Rebecca Lynch for the good goal.

The game then went scoreless for over 10 minutes, until senior co-captain Mary Ellen Carron broke the ice for the Mustangs when, after getting double-teamed behind the cage, the midfielder raced around the net and fired her shot straight into an empty net.

Mitchell followed with another free position goal into a still empty net, as the Phantoms pulled the goaltender out to midfield.

“Everything we’ve done the last 365 days was to get back here,” Mitchell said. “We had so many underclassmen step up and we changed a lot as a team. We’re not the same team as last year and that’s why the outcome was different.”

Despite a small letdown where the Phantoms tallied three unanswered goals to end the scoring for the game, the Mustangs had already built up a 7-1 advantage to seal the win.

Mount Sinai will travel to Adelphi University on Saturday to take on Cold Spring Harbor in the Long Island Championship game, at 2:30 p.m.

“This is definitely a confidence booster,” Pirreca said. “We have a lot of respect for the Nassau teams, but if we come out and play our game, we’re going to come out strong; just as we always do.”

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Comsewogue’s Dan Colasanto slides into third base ahead of the ball in the Warriors’ extra-inning 6-5 loss to Bayport-Blue Point on May 23, which forces a decisive game three in the Class A playoffs. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Having beaten No. 3 Bayport-Blue Point at home the day before, the No. 2-seeded Comsewogue baseball team looked to put the three-game series away on the road Saturday to advance to the Class A finals, but with the game tied 5-5 in extra innings, Bayport-Blue Point drove home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to win the game 6-5 and force a decisive game three.

Comsewogue’s David Nodeland hurls a pitch from the mound in the Warriors’ playoff game loss to Bayport-Blue Point on May 23, which forces a game three in the Class A playoffs. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s David Nodeland hurls a pitch from the mound in the Warriors’ playoff game loss to Bayport-Blue Point on May 23, which forces a game three in the Class A playoffs. Photo by Bill Landon

“We put ourselves in a situation where now we have to play a third game, but we’ve been resilient all year and we’ve got to stay positive,” Comsewogue head coach Mike Bonura said. “We’ve just got to play good baseball and I have all the confidence in the world in them.”

Comsewogue pitcher David Nodeland found himself in trouble in the top of the second inning when he loaded the bases with one out. The Phantoms’ next batter drew a walk, and put his team on the scoreboard, 1-0.

Nodeland struck the next batter out before Bayport-Blue Point lobbed the ball into shallow center field, which drove home a run for the 2-0 lead. The Warriors’ opponent finished the inning with a two-run RBI hit to right field to break out to a 4-0 advantage before Nodeland was able to stop the damage.

Picking up the bat for Comsewogue in the top of the third was Rob Dattoma, who homered deep over the left center fence to put the Warriors on the board.

That was all the team could muster though, and Nodeland, with runners on the corners, pitched his way out of a jam to keep the score 4-1 heading into the top of the fifth.

Senior third baseman Dan Colasanto’s bat spoke next with a base clearing, two-run RBI stand-up double, to help the Warriors draw within one run, 4-3. On a base hit to right field, Colasanto scored from second to tie the game, 4-4, and Jordan Lisco continued the rally when he cracked a deep shot to left field for an RBI-double. With an overthrown pass to second, Lisco was able to make his way to third base, where he would be left stranded.

“We just needed to hit with runners on base and make our plays on the field with no errors,” Lisco said. “The reason we lost today was because of errors, but we’ll come back Tuesday and we’ll win if we can play like we have all season.”

Comsewogue’s Rob Dattoma runs the bases after his home run in the top of the third inning, in the Warriors’ 6-5 loss to Bayport-Blue Point on May 23, which forces a game three in the Class A playoffs. Photo by Bill Landon
Comsewogue’s Rob Dattoma runs the bases after his home run in the top of the third inning, in the Warriors’ 6-5 loss to Bayport-Blue Point on May 23, which forces a game three in the Class A playoffs. Photo by Bill Landon

Comsewogue made a pitching change and Justin Virga took over at the mound to begin the bottom of the fifth, where Bayport-Blue Point made the Warriors suffer for it. A stand-up double and two base hits loaded the bases, and Virga walked the next batter to retie the game, at 5-5, but was able to pitch his way out of the inning without giving his opponent the go-ahead run.

Unable to manufacture any runs in the top of the next two innings, the Warriors were again in trouble in the bottom of the seventh when Bayport –Blue Point ripped a base hit to right field to put the winning run on first base with one out.

Comsewogue’s Matt Bohenck came in to pitch the rest of the way, and the next batter grounded the ball to infield, where John Braun was able to make the tag at second and turn the double play to retire the side.

With runners on first and second, the Warriors threatened in the top of the ninth when Colasanto knocked down a bunt and dove to the bag to load the bases.

Bayport was able to hold on though, as Comsewogue stranded all three runners as the game headed into extra innings.

Bayport-Blue Point led off the ninth with a ground ball up the middle for a base hit. The situation grew desperate as the Phantoms loaded the bases, and on the next pitch, a base hit drove in the winning run to put the game away, 6-5, and force a decisive third.

The Warriors will host the Phantoms on Tuesday, with the first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m.

“We let up,” Colasanto said. “We had a couple of walks and there’s really not much you can do about that. For Tuesday’s game, we can’t get too hyped because that’s when people get over anxious. We know we can beat them, so we just have to stay within ourselves.”