News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.
Nappi’s Tuskers Win 1st NYS Tourney Game in School History
By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
FISHKILL – If, at the start of the 2022 varsity baseball campaign, you had the Somers baseball team as the last team standing – not just on the baseball circuit, but the lone survivor of all sports programs in the Northern Westchester/Putnam County area – then you win the soothsayer’s award for top prognosticator. The odds of anyone having that were slim to none.
Somers Coach Anthony Nappi’s 2022 Tusker squad, which was left for dead midway through the spring season at 3-6, eventually secured the No.12 seed in the Section 1 Class A tournament before winning their fourth Section 1 Class A title since 2007, first since 2009. That, in and of itself, was particularly startling, given the fact Somers upset perennial powers No.2 Rye and No.3 Eastchester, en route to their first sectional title since 2009’s unthinkable three-peat.
But then to go out there and knock off an 18-1 Section 9 champion Cornwall team, 2-0, in the opening round of the NYSPHSAA tournament, behind a freshman hurler, Andrew Kapica, was the stuff coaches/parents/players can only dream about. That dream, though, ended in Saturday’s 4-2 regional title loss to Section 4 champion Maine-Endwell at Dutchess Stadium, where the Spartans (12-5) capitalized on a couple of fourth-inning Somers’ miscues to erase a 1-0 deficit and advance to the NYS Final 4.
Still, Nappi’s Tuskers (16-11) battled to the bitter end, plating a run in the bottom of the seventh and getting the tying run to the plate before fizzling out against the same Spartan program that ended Somers’ 2009 season in the opening round of the state tournament.
“Regardless of the result, this is the furthest a Somers baseball team has ever made it,” Nappi said. “I’m so freakin proud of these guys. They had an unforgettable season, and it’s a credit to them. My seniors Connor Durso, Andrew Cameron, Jack Guardino, John Roublick, Brandon Iorizzo and Matt Kapica will be missed. They gave us everything and led by example. I wish we could’ve got them a ring on their way out, but at the end of the day we know we accomplished great things together.”
M-E starter Bryant Carpenter allowed one earned run over six innings as the Spartans advanced to the state semifinals for the second time since losing in the 2019 state finals. The semis will be played on June 10 at Union-Endicott High School, some three miles from the M-E campus where the Spartans will face Section 2’s Averill Park in a state semifinal at 1 p.m.
Somers held a 1-0 lead when Evan Carway (2 for- 3, two doubles, run) doubled and was knocked home by a John Roublick single in the third inning, before two uncharacteristic defensive miscues, a pair of errors, led to a 2-1 Somers deficit in the fourth.
“Yeah, that inning was a tough one for us,” Nappi admitted. “It started with the strikeout, but the throw down to first took our first baseman off the bag and then we mixed an error after that got them going a little bit.”
Somers starter George Creighton did his best to battle through it, lasting 5-1/3rd innings before yielding to reliever Stefan Swee. Creighton allowed three earned runs and six hits while fanning six Spartans and added a seventh-inning RBI double to spark some late hope. Iorizzo was active on the base paths throughout, but Somers hit a bunch of ‘at-em’ balls on the screws that never found green.
“I thought our pitchers battled like they have all year,” Nappi said. “We played some solid defense behind them other than those two errors as well. Offensively, we got back to our approach that makes us successful. We attacked fastballs and hit a lot of balls hard. Unfortunately, we hit these balls right at people. That’s baseball for ya, we didn’t get a bounce to go our way today.”
Yet, their ways were answered against Cornwall when Andrew Kapica dangled a no-hitter well into the fifth frame, before surrendering a single to Cornwall’s Griffen Zimmer, who Kapica eventually picked off second base, squashing the first of three major threats over the last three innings. Baby ‘Kap’ the kid brother of senior SS Matt Kapica, would strand runners on first and second again in both the sixth and seventh before slaying the Dragons with a mix of moxie and poise few Tuskers have shown at this stage of their career. The fresh-faced 15-year-old fired a complete-game, five-hitter, whiffing four Dragons along the way, somewhat avenging Somers’ 2008 state playoff loss to Cornwall in the opening round of the tournament. Somers junior CF Ravi Dass singled and scored for a 2-0 lead after Carway stroked a base hit to left field. Swee doubled home the Tuskers’ first run, plating Eddie Baranowski, who reached on an error.
Former Coach Joe Wootten’s Tuskers were defeated by Johnson City in the opening round of the 2007 state tournament as well, leaving the 2022 Tuskers as the only club with a state tourney win. Only the Tuskers themselves believed anything like this was possible after the 3-6 start to the season.
“If I’m not mistaken we played a lot of top competition right off the bat,” Matt Kapica said. “While our record said that we were dead in the water, every game that we played in we competed and just fell short. We figured it out by playing for each other. We knew that nobody believed in us, so that really lit a fire under us and gave us the motivation to never fall short.”
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.