Suffolk County Opens Baseball Season With Coaches Memorial Weekend

The Town of Brookhaven, in conjunction with Section XI and the Suffolk County Baseball Coaches Association, held the first ever Coaches Memorial Opening Weekend this past Friday and Saturday. CHRISTINE HEEREN

The Town of Brookhaven, in conjunction with Section XI and the Suffolk County Baseball Coaches Association, held the first ever Coaches Memorial Opening Weekend this past Friday and Saturday, marking the official opening of the spring baseball season across the county.

SCBCA President Anthony Frascogna, the varsity baseball head coach at Patchogue-Medford, said the weekend began with a “soft opening” on Friday evening, with the official day really being Saturday, when a trio of late Suffolk coaching legends — Connetquot’s Bob Ambrosini, Suffolk’s all-time winningest baseball coach, Deer Park’s Carmine Argenziano and Bill Batewell, who coached at both Bellport and Sachem — all being honored over the weekend. All three coaches died last year when baseball, and all high school sports for that matter, were on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. Both Argenziano and Batewell died from complications of COVID-19.

The official opening ceremony commenced Saturday afternoon with Bob Ambrosini’s wife, Cathy, and her two sons, Robert and Anthony, delivering ceremonial first pitches. The Argenziano and Batewell families also participated in separate ceremonies.

Over two days, 55 teams played their first games of the season, including all of the teams from the South Fork, at Brookhaven’s various fields, such as the Eastport-South Manor Sports Complex, the Moriches Sports Complex, the Medford Sports Complex and Diamond in the Pines in Coram.

East Hampton Tops Kings Park In Tight Game 

East Hampton announced itself as a contender this season by defeating a perennially strong program in Kings Park, 1-0, on Saturday night in Moriches. Colin Ruddy, a senior, provided six strong innings for the Bonackers, allowing no runs on four hits and 10 strikeouts, but didn’t factor into the decision.

In the bottom of the sixth, senior Drew Salamy doubled off the very top of the fence in left centerfield, then eighth-grader Carter Dickinson singled up the middle to bring in Salamy with what wound up being the only run of the game, although the Kingsmen did make things interesting in the top of the seventh.

With Jack Dickinson now on the mound for East Hampton, Kings Park was able to put runners on first and second with no outs. The Kingsmen tried a fake-bunt/steal play, but freshman catcher Nico Horan-Puglia threw out the runner trying to steal third base. The runner on first stayed put, but tried reaching third base when the next batter singled into the outfield. When an East Hampton outfielder overthrew the cut-off man, the runner on first tried going from first to third, but the Bonackers, albeit on a close play, were able to get him out. The next batter flied out to center field to end the game.

“I’m still pretty pumped for it, and it’s been a few days,” East Hampton head coach Vinny Alversa said.

Pierson Wins Twi-Night Doubleheader 

The Whalers played two polar opposite games to start their season on Saturday in Eastport. Pierson defeated Greenport to start the evening in a lopsided game that took nearly three hours to complete. With the next game scheduled to start at 8 p.m. against Hampton Bays, Pierson head coach Jonathan Schwartz had to ask officials if the game could start a little later to give his players time to eat some dinner and get a little breather. They obliged and Pierson starting pitcher Daniel Labrozzi got to work.

Labrozzi wound up pitching a complete game, one-hit shutout in a 1-0 victory over the Baymen. He struck out 16 batters and the only runner he allowed all game was senior Bayman Jordan Adelson, who reached three times on a base hit and a pair of walks. Schwartz said Labrozzi pitched “superb” while Hampton Bays head coach John Foster confirmed that he was indeed “excellent.”

Labrozzi also had what was the game-winning hit, driving in the game’s only run with two outs in the bottom of the sixth.

“Just an enormous effort from him,” Schwartz said. “I really couldn’t ask for much more for the first two games of the season, given the layoff and the short amount of time we had to practice and prepare. The most impressive thing to me, which I told the guys after the second game, was that they came off of a lopsided win against Greenport and they were able to turn the page and refocus and have such a sharp game against a very good number one pitcher for Hampton Bays. They seemed to ratchet up their intensity a few levels from one game to the next, which was great to see.”

Kai Leporati started on the mound for the Baymen against Pierson, and while he may not have had the numbers Labrozzi had, he brought high praise from both coaches as well. He pitched six innings, gave up the one run on five hits and struck out eight.

“I thought we had good intensity, communicated well and made good plays defensively, especially on things we had been working on in practice,” Foster said. “We didn’t do all that well at the plate, but that’s most likely the best pitcher we’ll see all year and we’re excited to play them again later in the season.

“This weekend was definitely a tip of the cap to the coaches that we lost and it was nice what they did, it was a great kickoff, and it was neat seeing everyone all together,” he added. “I’m hoping something like this might stick. It’s neat being under the lights. The parents can come down and it’s just a good experience all around.”

Reid Kelsey started on the hill for Pierson in its victory over Greenport. He only allowed one hit in four innings and struck out eight. Dominick Mancino pitched the final three innings and allowed one run on one hit and struck out six. Christian Pantina went 5 for 6 at the dish, driving in seven RBIs, and Tucker Schiavoni had three hits and six RBIs. Jackson Sabbith also had three hits.