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Sam Kessler

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Mustangs drop game to Wantagh, 3-1, after winning program's first county title

The Mount Sinai baseball team huddle outside the dugout. The Mustangs fell to Wantagh, 3-1, in the Long Island championship game. Photo by Alex Petroski

Pitching and defense were the keys to the Long Island Class A baseball championship game Saturday. In the end, Wantagh had just enough of each, and Mount Sinai was left to wonder what might have been.

The Warriors defeated the Mustangs 3-1 behind a complete game, one hit, zero earned run pitching performance by senior Bobby Hegarty at the Police Athletic League Complex in Holtsville. Hegarty got the best of Mount Sinai senior Sam Kessler on the mound. Kessler also went seven innings; scattering five hits and one walk while striking out seven.

Mount Sinai senior starting pitcher Sam Kessler hurls the ball off the mound. Photo by Alex Petroski
Mount Sinai senior starting pitcher Sam Kessler hurls the ball off the mound. Photo by Alex Petroski

“He’s been tremendous all year long,” Mount Sinai head Coach Eric Reichenbach said of his pitcher after the loss Saturday. Kessler pitched the Mustangs to the championship game with seven innings of two-hit ball to close out a two-game sweep of Rocky Point in the Suffolk County Class A championship series on May 26.

“It’s another game where basically he dominated,” Reichenbach said. “He didn’t give up an earned run. We didn’t play stellar defense behind him, and that’s kind of been our bread and butter all year long — pitching and defense.”

The fact that the Mustangs’ “bread and butter” failed them will probably make Saturday’s result a little tougher to swallow. The Warriors scored the first run of the game in the third inning after an error and two singles loaded the bases with one out for senior designated hitter Will O’Brien.

O’Brien hit a shot to deep left field, which was run down by Mount Sinai outfielder Paul Gomes. The eighth-grader made an outstanding running catch, slamming into the fence for the second out. O’Brien was credited with a sacrifice fly. After a stolen base, sophomore Anthony Fontana singled to right field to put Wantagh up 2-0. Both runs were unearned.

“I thought I didn’t have my best breaking ball early in the game,” Kessler said after the game. “I think that’s where I got in trouble in that third inning a little bit. I made the adjustments, but it was just one of those days. Not much you can say — they played good and came out here and beat us today.”

Kessler settled down and retired 12 of the next 13 Warriors hitters. Mount Sinai answered the Wantagh rally in the bottom of the third, getting men on base via an error and a single. With one out and men on first and second, Wantagh failed to turn a double play and an errant throw by Wantagh second basemen Mike Derham allowed the Mustangs to cut the lead in half. Hegarty didn’t allow another base runner after the third. He retired the final 12 Mustangs he faced to secure the Long Island championship.

Mount Sinai’s Sam Kessler takes a strike from Wantagh’s Bobby Hegarty. Photo by Alex Petroski
Mount Sinai’s Sam Kessler takes a strike from Wantagh’s Bobby Hegarty. Photo by Alex Petroski

“Hats off to the other team, and to Hegarty,” Reichenbach said. “He threw a nice game. Sometimes you’ve got to tip your cap.”

Wantagh scored their third run on Mount Sinai’s third error of the game in the seventh inning.

The Mustangs captured their first-ever Suffolk County Class A championship title this season, though, so Saturday’s disappointing result didn’t stop Mount Sinai from reflecting on a special season.

“It’s hard now because the game just ended, but it’s still a tremendous accomplishment by the school and these kids,” the head coach said. “We’ve never won a Suffolk County championship before. We got one this year and it’s just unfortunate we won’t be going any further.”

Kessler will head to West Virginia University to pitch in the Big 12 Conference in the fall.

“It’s a great season all around,” Kessler said. “We took this team farther then we’ve ever been before. It’s a shame things ended the way it did. There’s a great group of guys here and they’ll be back next year.”