By Ray Gallagher Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
& Rob DiAntonio @RJD_Photos
Saddle up, gang! The 2021 baseball campaign is headed toward the final turn before the stretch run, and a slew of Examiner-area teams are poised to make a run for the roses.
Class AA White Plains, Fox Lane and Carmel are all having huge seasons and will be strong contenders for the sectional title, provided they can challenge mighty Mamaroneck and knock the Dutchess County powers — RCK, John Jay EF and Arlington — off the perch of power they oft-command, not to mention Rockland County heavyweights Suffern and
Clarkstown South. The talent in Class AA is vast this season, so whoever hoists the hardware will have earned it, seeing how the top 10 or better are all viable contenders.
Likewise, Class A is wide open and there for the take, and who’s to say it won’t be Yorktown pulling down its second sectional title since 1995 as the Huskers (11-1) continue to cruise under first-year boss C.J. Riefenhauser, the former big leaguer. The sleeper among us is Hen Hud, which knocked off Arlington to run its win streak to eight games before falling, 3-2, to John Jay CR Thursday. Likewise, Panas is mysteriously flying under the radar but has won more than 90% of its games against Class A opponents and has enough talent to seriously challenge.
In Class B, Briarcliff is hitting .474 as a team and pitching to the tune of a 1.25 ERA, so those numbers suggest the Bears (10-2) are still the team to beat.
In the CHSAA, Kennedy Catholic is doing serious damage and continues to be one of the strongest baseball programs in the region under Coach Fletcher despite consecutive losses to Iona Prep, which just might be the finest varsity baseball club in the Westchester/Putnam/Rockland/Dutchess region.
Like we said, saddle up!
To say CARMEL is simply raking 1-through-9 would not do justice for the Harley-raking Rams, who are hitting over .350 as a team. In the host Rams’ 11-2 win over John Jay CR last Friday when starting P Tim Albano settled down after a shaky first inning to secure his first varsity win by going the distance with five hits allowed and two earned runs to go with five K’s. Carmel (10-2) crushed it at the plate, including Jack Sullivan (3-4, 2B, 2R HR, 3 RBI), Matt Demme (3-3, 2B), Brendan Murphy (3-run dinger, 4 RBI), Nick Montagna (3 RBI, 3B) and Jon McIntyre (2 hits).
Sullivan (.500 BA) picked the Rams up Saturday in their 17-2 rout of visiting Brewster, driving home five runs over the first four frames, giving him 23 RBI through 12 games. Carmel’s slick-picking junior SS Kevin Dall (3 hits) and Marcos Fernandez each knocked in a pair as the Rams cranked out 15 hits in just five innings. Senior OF/C Anthony Febo continued his torrid tear this week and is at .410 BA for the season.
OSSINING P Dan Galef gave the performance of a lifetime when the Pride held firm to to the coveted Christian Federico Cup by beating visiting Byram Hills, 10-1, behind Galef’s compete-game effort. The RHP fanned 10 over seven frames and did not allow an earned run. Gino Manicchio (2-3 4 RBI, 3-run HR) and Lucas Rodriguez (2-3, 2B, HR) were huge behind him.
Ossining Coach Scott Deleso was impressed with Galef’s poise.
“He had an amazing performance,” the coach said. “He came out throwing strikes. He got ahead in the count and had hitters guessing all day, which led to his ten strikeout day. He challenged hitters all day and was a bulldog on the mound for us.”
MAHOPAC hasn’t had the banner season it was hoping for, but the Indians (3-10) are scratching and clawing under Coach Myk Lugbauer. In a 2-1 win over Brewster Thursday, the Indians swept the Bears behind P Mikey Ambro’s 5 -1/3 innings, in which he did not allow and earned run before yielding to reliever Brandon Smith, who picked up his first win in relief when sophomore Joey Koch hit the game-winning sac fly in sixth. Craig Brandstetter had an RBI single and a key sac bunt to set up a run.
WHITE PLAINS won three more games to move to 9-2 and is a serious contender in a loaded Class AA field.
The Tigers started off with a 6-2 win over Suffern last Tuesday. Derek Diaz (6 innings, 2 earned runs) got the win while Mark Kent recorded the save. Nick Vendola (2 hits, 2 RBI), John Myers (2 hits, RBI, double, 2 runs) and Teddy Hauser (2 hits, RBI) led the offense.
White Plains then defeated Sleepy Hollow 15-7 with Declan Bruton (3 for 5, 4 RBI, 3 runs, home run, double), Diaz (2 hits, 4 RBI), Hauser (3 for 3, 3 runs), Chris McGuire (2 for 4, RBI, triple) and Jake Dorchak (2 hits, 2 RBI) sparking them at the plate.
The Tigers recorded their fifth straight win with a 15-1 rout of Scarsdale at Purchase College on Saturday. Kent twirled a gem, tossing six innings of three-hit ball while striking out 11. Myers (3 for 3, 4 runs), Mason Lang (2 hits, 2 RBI) and Diaz (2 RBI) were the leaders offensively.
YORKTOWN is legit and we’ve known this while following their summer travel exploits the last few years in the Greater Hudson Valley Baseball League, which has translated into one heck of a start this spring for first-year Coach Riefenhauser’s Huskers. Reifenhauser returned to his Mahopac roots Saturday, where his retired No.7 is fastened upon the scoreboard, and won his first game back at Mahopac as a head coach for Yorktown. Down 7-3 to Mahopac, the Huskers rallied twice and secured a 14-8 win.
The first rally saw Yorktown go for five runs in the pivotal fourth to take an 8-7 lead when Tyler Pugliese (3-5, 3 runs, 4 RBI) doubled home a run and Kyle Zaslaw dropped a go-ahead RBI to left. Swaroop Pujari started the rally with a double and scored.
Scratching and clawing as previously stated, Mahopac tied it in the sixth when Nick Angeloni stroked a hard shot to right field to plate Joey Koch, but the Indians ran themselves out of further damage with a caught stealing.
The Huskers (17 hits combined) then went to town in extra innings, plating six runs when Pujuari (4-5, 2 runs), who mashed all game, doubled to lead off the eighth. Nick Jacoby (3-4, 2 runs, 1 RBI) had his prints all over this game and followed with an RBI double for a 9-8 lead, what proved to be the game-winning knock. Jon Munoz (3-5, 3 runs, 1 RBI) singled and Brett Warden walked to load the bases. Pugliese, Jon Sica and Zaslaw (2-4, 3 RBI) all followed with RBI at-bats for a 12-8 lead, game over, with reliever Scott Weitman (5 K’s) allowing just one run in six innings.
“We have a great group of guys that all step up when needed,” Coach Rief said. “No one on this team is selfish and they are just playing the game hard for each other.”
Yorktown is getting contributions up and down the lineup, including Thursday’s 10-0 win over host Somers, in which Stephen Haglund went 4-4, with four RBI to support wining P Kevin Weitman, who worked six shutout innings of three-hit ball with nine K’s. Huskers SS Warden added two RBI and two runs while Zaslaw doubled home a run and scored twice. Yorktown rallied for a win in the opener of the home-and-home set with Somers, defeating the Tuskers, 8-6, after trailing 5-1 in the third. Warden (3-4, 3 doubles), Pugliese (2R HR), Zaslaw (solo HR) were up to support winning P Scott Weitman, who worked four frames in relief (0 ER, 4K).
None of what’s happening at Yorktown this spring is lost on the team.
“It has been incredible to be a part of this team,” Zaslaw said. “It all started when all of the boys put in work this winter in the gym and during preseason practices, we bought in early. When Coach CJ came in on the first day, we knew he meant business and it showed. We all see he is all in and we join him. He knows a lot of guys in the area, and they always ask him how the team is, and we are out there trying to back him up. We are off to a good start, but we know there is still a lot of work left and we aren’t satisfied. This team is special, and it’s a dream to be part of this my senior year.”
Somers recovered from the Yorktown series in Saturday’s 8-4 win over Lourdes when P Jack Guardino worked six frames, allowing two earned runs with five K’s. Senior slugger Jack Kaiser cracked a three-run yard bomb to lead a nine-hit parade.
HEN HUD’s eight-game win streak came to an end but before it did the Sailors notched one of their more impressive wins in recent memory, a 3-2 walk-off over visiting Arlington last Wednesday. Sailor senior Nick Hiltsley made it a long trip back to Lagrangeville for the Admirals when he cashed in the winning run in the bottom of the seventh. Starter Noah Lipton pitched 6 2/3 innings and Josh Shea got the final out in the top of the seventh to earn the win.
“The Arlington win was special, I’ll be honest,” Hen Hud skipper Van Vourliotis said. “I never like to make one win more important than another, but it gives us a chance to look back and say we know we can compete with anyone. Arlington is a program we admire from afar, one of the best in the state, no doubt. It was the best regular season win our program has achieved over the last decade.
“We have a huge week ahead against some of the best teams in Class A in Panas twice, and Rye, so we need to bring it,” he added.
The Sailors were on the other end of a sour ride home from Cross River after a walk-off the next night when John Jay picked the Sailors off in the eighth.
WALTER PANAS has had some impressive wins of late, including Wednesday’s 8-2 defeat of Byram Hills and Friday’s 2-1 win over reigning Class A champion LAKELAND.
Against the visiting Hornets, Panas sophomore P Jackson DiLorenzo was dealing dirty cards and giving Lakeland a glimpse of the future. The gas-chucking righty, who heats up regularly in the high-80s and dabbles in the low-90s, didn’t allow a run until the sixth, whiffed 12 and scattered three hits.
“My game plan for tonight was to just compete and trust my ability,” said DiLorenzo, who went 1 for 3 with an RBI double while C Danny Witters was 2 for 2 at the plate. “I felt really comfortable out there tonight because I knew I had my boys behind me. I had a great feeling with my fastball and ran it up to 90 six times, as well as being able to throw my slider for strikes.”
Panas sophomore IF Sammy Stafura had a good look at the hand DiLorenzo was dealing.
“He looked great,” Stafura said, “just kept pounding the zone and hitting his spots. Lots of swing and misses. Seemed like they couldn’t catch up to his 90-mph fastball. It’s extremely enjoyable watching him pitch, and playing the field behind him. We’re extremely excited for the future of Panas baseball.”
The future might be closer than most think if the Panthers put their best foot forward down the stretch.
Meanwhile, reigning Class A champion Lakeland saw Ray White deliver a super effort on the mound, firing six innings and fanning nine in a losing effort. He was also 2 for 3 at the dish with an RBI and two steals.
Against Byram Hills, Panas starter Gavin Carlucci (4-1/3 IP, 7 K’s, 3 H, 2 R) fired his second solid outing in a row. Sophomore slugger Stafura went 2 for 3 with a triple while St. John’s-bound masher Aidan Cohall was 2 for 3 with two doubles and an RBI. Alex Jankowski two hits and a ribbie.
BYRAM HILLS rebounded from a three game losing streak with a 7-0 shutout of Class AA FOX LANE behind Bobby Chicoine on Saturday. Chicoine, a junior, went 5.2 innings for the win and added a grand slam in the sixth inning which shut the door on any hope of a Foxes comeback.
Chicoine did have five walks but he got help from the Bobcats’ defense and came through with some key strikeouts to get out of jams. He struck out eight and let up just three hits.
“I had to rely on my fastball to get me back into the count,” Chicoine said. “My defense really had my back and I can trust those guys with anything. My catcher was letting me do my thing and I was working ahead.”
Michael Ascanio tossed the final 1.1 innings to close the game out for Byram. Facing first and third in the sixth inning, Ascanio induced a fly ball out to escape the jam.
“Mike is one of my best friends and he’s the man,” Chicoine said. “I feel for him. He hadn’t been able to play on varsity. He hurt his elbow sophomore year and then of course COVID (cancelled last season), so it’s great to see him back on the mound and doing his thing.”
Jordan Baskind’s RBI double put the Bobcats up 3-0 in the sixth and later Chicoine blasted his grand slam to left field to break the game open.
“That was a great feeling,” Chicoine said of the big blast. “I had that feeling that the fastball was coming after he walked the two batters. I had to jump on it quick and not let myself start to guess what kind of pitch was coming.”
Brady Karp and Jared Cohen each scored on a Fox Lane error to give Byram a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
Tommy Soleiman pitched admirably for the Foxes in defeat, tossing 5.1 innings while striking out seven and allowing two earned runs.
The Bobcats and Foxes were scheduled to face off in another league showdown yesterday at Fox Lane.
Chicoine tossed a three-hitter in a 7-1 win over Eastchester on Monday. He struck out 10 and also went 2 for 4 with a homer and four RBI. Karp was 3 for 5 with a home run, double, two RBI and scored three runs.
The Bobcats (7-6) then endured a three game losing skid with losses to Panas (8-2), Rye (5-2) and Ossining (10-1), before rebounding against the Foxes.
“We struggled this week. I think without our coach here (Scott Saunders) with us, it meant a little more (to get the win over Fox Lane),” Chicoine said. “I know league started so it was already a big game but playing for him, we had to come out and do our thing. I think this is really going to take us to the next step. We’re definitely coming together as a team and we’re going to make a push.”
Fox Lane started the week with an 8-2 win over Suffern. Logan Matson led the way at the plate, going 2 for 3 with three RBI. Michael Lombardi pitched the first three innings but was removed for precautionary reasons. Soleiman picked up the win in relief while Alex Casarella got the final five outs for the save. Panos Sinis (2 hits, 2 runs, RBI) and Chris Giaimo (2 hits, 2 RBI) also chipped in offensively.
The Foxes topped Clarkstown South 9-5 on Thursday with Michael Byrns (5 innings, 6 Ks) picking up the win. Aidan Hicks notched the save. Lombardi was 2 for 4 with three RBI. Matson and Nicky Cutaia added two RBI each. Fox Lane (7-4) lost to Mamaroneck 9-5 the next day.
PLEASANTVILLE and VALHALLA split a league series last week. Panthers senior Thomas Browne pitched a complete game three-hit shutout in a 4-0 win in eight innings over host Valhalla last Wednesday. Browne struck out 12 and had two walks.
“Tommy Browne is just a warrior on the mound,” Panthers coach Dan Iorio said. “He’s someone we rely on who is a true ace and he has the ability to shut any team down. He’s consistent every time he goes to the mound with his fastball and off-speed. You know that when he takes the mound you have a really good chance of winning that day.”
Aidan Finnegan’s RBI double gave the Panthers the lead in the eighth while Joseph Reich went 2 for 3.
The Vikings rebounded with a 7-0 shutout win over the host Panthers on Friday behind six innings of three-hit ball from Marc Weeks. He struck out eight. Christian Rossi came on to close the game out.
“We just asked them to play with intensity and play hard-nosed baseball,” Valhalla coach Josh Wolfson said. “We had the bases loaded with no outs in the seventh inning in a 0-0 game on Wednesday and we didn’t get it done and they beat us. Today, we knew we had a good pitcher on the mound and if we hit a little bit, we knew we’d be OK. Marc was throwing strikes today and he has good velocity. When he gets ahead and he can mix in his secondary pitches he’s very effective.”
The Vikings scored five runs in the first three innings to pounce on the Panthers. Jason Rodriguez had two hits, two stolen bases and a run scored. Rossi added an RBI single and roped a double.
“We went after strikes,” Wolfson said. “We preached that if you get a first pitch strike, go get it. Put the ball in play and in high school baseball good things happen.”
Pleasantville bounced back with a 10-7 win over Putnam Valley on Saturday. Matt Satriale went 2 for 3 with a triple and two RBI. In a 14-8 win over Hastings last Tuesday, Anthony Palma had a monster game with five hits and five RBI. Will
Lent added three hits and two RBI. Finnegan and Charlie Dispenza had an RBI each.
The 7-6 Panthers were shutout by BRIARCLIFF, 8-0, last Monday. Pleasantville has split all three of its league match-ups so Iorio is seeking more consistency from his young squad.
“With a young team that tends to be a common outcome,” Iorio said of splitting their league games. “We’ve experienced that before in the past. It’s just a matter of getting the mindset and with these young guys, letting them know that each day they have to handle each game by itself. We’ve struggled keeping that consistency and we’ve tried to explain to them every day that consistency is what’s going to allow us to be one of the better teams in our league. Right now we haven’t found that consistency. Once we do, we feel like we’ll have a good chance at being one of the top teams in Class B.”
Valhalla bested Pawling 9-1 on Saturday to move to 7-6. Michael Dawson (6.1, 7 Ks, no earned runs) led the Vikings on the mound while Kori Prosperino (2 for 4, 5 RBI) sparked them at the plate. The Vikings suffered a 6-3 league loss to Blind Brook to open the week.
“I think our starting pitching is phenomenal and if we hit a little bit, I think we’ll be a tough team to beat down the stretch,” Wolfson said.
Briarcliff picked up two league victories over WESTLAKE and won three out of four last week to improve to 10-2. In a 6-4 win over the host Wildcats on Wednesday, Jayden Amador had two RBI while Chris Beard went 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Tom Poggi was 3 for 4 with two runs scored. Jack Manganello went the distance and struck out 10 for the win. Marc DeNunzio had two RBI for the Wildcats while Nick Mulvey added two hits and an RBI.
Two days later, Briarcliff defeated visiting Westlake 7-4 behind Poggi, who pitched five scoreless innings and had 10 Ks while allowing just one hit. He also had two RBI and two runs scored. Beard added two RBI and Max Haberman had an RBI and scored twice.
In the Bears’ shutout win over rival Pleasantville, Poggi was the star, going 4 for 5 with three RBI. He also tossed a complete game four-hitter while striking out 15 Panthers.
In a 12-8 loss to Bronxville on Saturday, Briarcliff received two RBI apiece from Marc Milano, Giulian Greco and Beard.
Mulvey had five RBI in Westlake’s lone win of the week, an 8-5 victory over Pawling on Thursday. Westlake started the week with an 8-6 league loss to Rye Neck. The Wildcats fell to Croton-Harmon 12-7 on Saturday to drop to 6-6 overall.
PUTNAM VALLEY had itself a week it would rather forget, dropping three games (two to North Salem and Pleasantville) while awaiting the final result of an 11-11 extra-inning suspended game with Pawling. Tiger IF Joey Maloney (2-3, 3 RBI, 2R, 3BB) was having a day against Pawling but will have to wait until the completion on May 26th to pad those numbers. Matt Jacobson (3-4, 2R, RBI) and Antonio Truglio (2-4, 2B, 2R, 2RBI) both had big days in a 10-7 loss to Pleasantville.
Ray has 33 years experience covering and photographing local sports in Westchester and Putnam counties, including everything from Little League/Travel Baseball to varsity high school prep sports and collegiate coverage. He has been a sports editor at Examiner Media since its inception in 2007.