Morelli Leads Lakeland, Cox Superb for Panas as Rivals Split
Hornets Snag League II-C Flag; Mahopac, Carmel Heat up in Class AA
In a year when just about anything might happen on Section 1 baseball diamonds this post season, chances are we’re about to have a bumpy ride to the Class AA, A, B and C title drives later this May. The general consensus among most coaches/fanatics is that baseball is still on the down-tick in Section 1; perhaps a byproduct of more and more athletes turning to lacrosse and other sports. Whatever it is, baseball – at least in Section 1 this season – isn’t as crisply played on a day-in-day-out basis as it was just five years ago (IMO).
That won’t stop a host of potential challengers – like current No.3 Hen Hud (15-4), No.6 Lakeland (13-6) and No.14 Panas (10-8) — from getting after what it in what figures to be a wide-open Class A race.
LAKELAND salvaged a split with rival PANAS on Friday, each team taking one from the other on the road. Coach Anthony Fata’s Panthers were the first club to knock off Hornet ace Matt Mikulski in Wednesday’s 4-3 Panas win as Panther lefty Mike Cox matched Mikulski in a gun-fight game of dueling aces.
The Fordham-bound Mikulski allowed just three hits and one earned run (four overall due to two costly Hornet errors) while fanning 12 in just 5-2/3rds, so it would be up to Cox to match those numbers. The senior fired six frames of four-hit ball, whiffing nine and allowing three runs (two earned).
“We got to Mikulski a little bit in the third,” Fata said. “Take nothing away from his performance because he was every bit as good as advertised, but Mike Cox matched him every step of the way. It was a great game with both sides playing inspired baseball. Either one of us can make a deep run in the post season should we play like that in the playoffs.”
Hornet IF Pat Morelli went 2 for 4 with a run and a ribbie while Panthers Brian Dinnen, Jack Jempty and Pat Kelley (2 for 3, run) each knocked in a run for Panas.
In Friday’s game, state-ranked (No.12) Lakeland (6-2 in league) was all business in a 6-1 win, taking home the League II-C championship behind Morelli’s sterling pitching effort. In what might have been the senior right-hander’s finest moment, Morelli, an unheralded three-sport starter, went the route, firing a four hitter. He sent eight Panthers in search of pine via K-way without issuing a walk on just one earned run.
Hornet junior Freddy Reichelt doubled home two runs in support of Morelli, who had two hits and a scored. Lakeland senior Austin Cassese got in on the act, going yard with a solo bomb and scoring a pair of runs…
HEN HUD has righted the ship after a wavy stretch of four losses in five games. A five-game win streak and 54 runs later, has Coach Dutch Pritts’ Sailors back on course, including a post-season passage that could include two or three games at Sunset Field if the Sailors can manage the choppy playoff waters.
Knocked out in the first round as the No.1 seed last season, the Sailors have eyeballed Hen Hud’s first Section 1 title since 2000 while putting the past behind them. Hen Hud, which should finish in second place in League II-E behind Beacon, still needs to tighten up defensively, as their three errors in a 7-1 win over Lincoln would suggest.
Sailor hurler Jack Attinelly fired six innings of two-hit ball while striking out 10 Lancers. Attinelly didn’t allow an earned run, was clutch at the plate (2 RBI), and drew support from Jordan Grullon (3-3, triple, run, RBI), Trevor Dowling (2-4 run) and Joe Grullon (2 RBI).
Hen Hud also held on for dear life in a 3-2 win over BREWSTER, who Coach Pritts called “The best two-win team he’s ever seen.” Coach Cunningham’s hard-luck Bears (2-16), finalists a year ago, don’t look like they’ll qualify for the playoffs after eight one-run losses and two two-run setbacks this season.
The Sailors had just enough offense to beat the Bears as C Dan Weimer (2-2, 2 doubles, RBI), Jack Kelly (3-4) and Attinelly (walk-off RBI) did the damage in support of starter Nick Caruso (5.1 IP, 3 K, 3 BB, 5 hits, 2 earned runs) and winning reliever Tom Pecchis (1.2 IP). Josh Spitz went 2-4 with three RBI in a 20-5 win over Peekskill…
MAHOPAC (13-7), CARMEL (9-11) and YORKTOWN (7-11-1), currently seeded No.7 and No.15 and No.16, respectively, had season-changing weeks. The Indians went into their two-game sweep of Arlington (2-1 and 5-3 wins) on a five-game free-fall but relied on strong pitching and clutch hitting to get back on track.
Mahopac RHP Brian Murray was the story in the 2-1 win over the visiting Admirals (10-7), who are having a down season by their lofty standards. Still, the Indians swept a good program behind Murray, who pitched to contact while scattering five hits on one earned run for his fourth win of the year. Chris Montuoro and Matteo Avallone each drove home a run while Pat McGee tripled and scored.
On the road at Arlington, Indian P John Ravoli survived Mahopac five errors and pitched his way out of trouble by going the distance for the win. Steve Daly knocked in two runs for the Indians.
“We played good baseball in the last two games against a good team,” said McGee, a senior shortstop. “Our pitching has been unreal and the timely hits have been a huge factor for us, and we feel very confident going into playoffs. We have hung with and beaten several teams that are ranked at the top and we know that if we play our best baseball, we can make a run at the title.”
The Indians still need to make the most of their contact…
Carmel can rake, and the proof was in the pudding in recent wins over Panas (8-1) and East Ramapo (11-0). During their four-game win streak, the Rams have scored 31 runs, which has helped its pitchers relax and throw strikes, which starter Max Pererson did for six innings of three-hit ball in the win over Panas. He fanned five Panthers and was in total control. Kenny Benitez knocked in two runs for the Rams.
Carmel P Mike Hernandez whiffed a career-high 11 over six innings for the win over East Rampo. Steve Messerschmitt had two hits and two RBI.
We’ve said all along in this space that Carmel is better than its record would indicate.
“We’ve lost quite a few one-run games to teams like (John Jay) East Fishkill, who we played very tough, and we had East Fishkill beat until the seventh and had Fox Lane tied at their place through five,” Carmel first-year Coach Joe Hackert said, “so it’s not like we’re not playing good baseball. We’re getting there. This is a great group of kids, too, so I hope we can stay hot and make a run here.”
That run will have to be done without the services of veteran C Tyler Parshley, who took one on the crown against Fox Lane and will be lost for the season. What a shame; reliable, likeable kid meant so much to the Rams…
Yorktown also had Fox Lane, the current No.2 seed, on the ropes and settled for a 3-3 10-inning tie, and then defeated Greeley, 9-2, on Friday to complete a sweep of the Quakers, who they also defeated 6-3 earlier in the week behind five rib-eyes from senior 1B Tanner Dyslin. Husker Joe Veca also knocked in five in the 9-2 win over the Quakers. Jake Bichler scored three runs and Chris Sica homered to support winning P Jack Christensen.
At this point in time, all Class AA clubs are looking for a path to avoid Coach Eric Frink’s state-ranked (No.4) John Jay EF club, which should enter the tournament as the favorites, according to state-ranked (No.13) Fox Lane Coach Matt Hillis.
“I think East Fishkill is by far the best team in the section,” Hillis said. “They are athletic, they have the pitching and solid hitting to make a run here.”
PUTNAM VALLEY (11-6) has flown below the Class B radar despite a solid record and four-game win streak. Like the rest of Class B, the Tigers are looking for a bracket opposite state-ranked (No.1) Briarcliff (18-2), which looked like the clear-cut team to beat until a pair of late-season losses to Valhalla (6-13) opened the doors of hope for everyone. Class B is suddenly up for grabs.
PV’s Austin Browne threw a five-hit shutout and Ben D’Addona had two RBI for the Tigers in a 4-0 win over Pawling. In a 3-1 win over Pleasantville, Johnny Rogers went 5-1/3rd and did not allow an earned run for the win. Senior reliever John Rainieri chalked up the save and went 2 for 4 with two RBI. Michael Budano went 2 for 3 with a run scored and an RBI for the Tigers, who upped their team average from below .200 just two weeks ago to 265., with senior Chris Crawford (.436 BA, 10 runs, 10 RBI) leading the way…
CROTON (9-10) has dropped five of the last seven and three in a row to fall to No.7 in the current seeds. The season began with high expectations and a 4-0 start, but there’s little time to turn it around with playoff starting this week.
HALDANE got everyone attention with a 10-4 win over defending NYS champion North Salem on May 3rd, but lost two of the last three and remain a viable long shot to represent in the state tournament. Sophomore hurler Devin Siegel picked up his third win of the season while firing a no-hitter at Woodlands in a 14-1 win.
KENNEDY CATHOLIC is legit, y’all. Ranked No.4 in NYS among Catholic school, Coach Bob Fletcher’s Gaels (14-3) are riding high on a 13-game win streak. Yorktown residents Jaz Burton and 6’5” 215 pound sophomore P Eric Volpi, an absolute D-I stud, has been killing it of late. Coach Fletch just continues to develop some of the best talent in the region, pure and simple.