By Bill Landon
The Newfield Wolverines hosted their crosstown rivals Centereach for district bragging rights Tuesday afternoon. The Cougars jumped out to a three-run lead, but the Wolverines battled back in a game that was decided on the final pitch of the seventh inning, where Newfield found its way out of a bases loaded scare, to hold on to a 10-7 win.
Centereach struck first when junior Victor Corsaro hit a solo home run over the left center fence. With runners on first and second, senior Joe Calabrese hit a line drive to left field to load the bases. Senior Nick Kostulas scored from third on a passed ball at the plate to help his team go up, 2-0. Centereach squandered a scoring opportunity with bases loaded when Newfield senior pitching ace Brandon Alberto worked his way out of the jam — fanning the batter at the plate to retire the side.
Newfield’s bats did the talking in the bottom of the second, when senior Joe North ripped a two-run homer to center field to close the gap, 3-2.
Newfield senior Joe Pepe followed with a base-clearing rip to deep right to break out to a 4-3 lead, and senior J.J. Lindgren smacked a deep shot to the fence for a two-RBI double and the 6-3 advantage.
“We played defense, we hit the ball well and that’s what you’re supposed to do,” North said. “But J.J.’s home run was the difference. It cleared our minds, and they got down over it.”
Centereach senior Austin Turner took over on the mound in an attempt to quell the scoring fest and closed out the inning.
Centereach pulled within one run in the top of the fourth when Corsaro blasted one through the infield gap to drive in senior John Boss. Kostulas struck again with a line drive down the right side to bring Corsaro home and make it a one-run game, 6-5.
“We tried to get back in it there late,” Boss said. “We never give up. We’re resilient. We never get down on ourselves, but we came up short today.”
With runners at the corners, Centereach tried a suicide squeeze as the runner on first took off to draw a throw so the runner on third could head home. Newfield didn’t fall for it though, and ran down the third base runner for the out.
Lindgren’s bat was the difference-maker again, when he smacked a deep shot over the left field fence to tally two more RBIs and a run, for a commanding 9-5 lead.
“It was our defense today that won it for us — we didn’t make many errors; we played the cleanest baseball that we’ve played all year,” Lindgren said. “And the key is we followed that with hitting.”
Again Centereach would make a pitching change when A.J. Glass took to the mound to go the rest of the way.
“We struggled with command with our starting pitcher and that was an issue,” Centereach coach Mike Herrschaft said. “So you come in with three other relievers and you’re hoping that they can hold the fort down, but it just didn’t happen.”
With a runner on base, the Wolverines proved they weren’t done when senior Jared Prevete drove one deep into the gap, to score sophomore Jacob Vanessendelft, to edge ahead 10-5.
Centereach threatened in the top of the sixth inning when Corsaro’s shot to left center loaded the bases, and again it was Kostulas’ bat that answered the call as he drove one deep into no man’s land for two RBIs that trimmed the deficit, 10-7.
“We played a great game,” Corsaro said. “We made a few mistakes in the field, but other than that it was solid all around. We did hit the ball, and we pitched pretty well today.”
With a base runner on first, the Cougars defense turned a double play to end the inning.
“We definitely hit the ball better,” Newfield coach Paul Pedersen said. “We played defense, but any time you get into a blue-red matchup in a district game, it’s scary. These kids know each other. They’ve played together their whole lives and it’s a rival. It doesn’t matter what the records are, it’s a game that nobody wants to lose.”
Newfield freshman Bobby Vath took over for Alberto on the mound the rest of the way, and with the Cougars’ last at- bat, Kostulas took to the batter’s box with the bases loaded and his team trailing by three.
With two outs, Vath battled the hitter, who protected the plate as the count grew full. Kostulas smacked a deep fly ball to center field, but Newfield tracked it down for the final out.
“We hit the ball hard, and we play them again tomorrow, Pedersen said. “We’ll try to minimize the strikeouts, put the ball in play and stay mistake-free on defense.”
Results of Wednesday’s matchup were not available by press time, but with Tuesday’s result, Newfield improves to 4-9 in League IV, while Centereach dropped to 3-10.
The Cougars begins a new series with Half Hollow Hills West at home on Monday, May 11, with the first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m. Newfield will travel to West Islip on Monday at 4 p.m. for the first game of the Wolverines’ final series of the regular season.