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Clarke moves on to face another underdog in 'A' semifinals

Clarke's Matt Seelinger pitches in relief against Plainedge.

Clarke's Matt Seelinger pitches in relief against Plainedge. (April 4, 2013) (Credit: Dan Neri)

After Clarke dropped the first game of the best-of-three quarterfinal in Nassau ‘A’ to league foe and No. 14 Valley Stream North the Rams needed to make a statement.

Despite being seeded 11 spots higher, Clarke had its back up against the wall in the quarterfinals again. In 2012 No. 16 Plainedge upset the Rams en route to an unlikely state semifinal run.

“They were only a 14 seed because we play in such a good league,” Clarke head coach Tom Abruscato said. “They’re one of the better teams in the county. There was no talk about the seeds and it was just about getting ready for a tough team.”

Clarke was ready in game two and came through behind a stellar pitching performance from ace Matt Seelinger – on three days rest – and a powerful hitting exhibition from John Fogarty.

“He’s been a true No. 1 for us and he was able to throw strikes consistently,” Clarke head coach Tom Abruscato said. “He’s a very tough kid and a future college pitcher and he showed that.”

Seelinger went the distance, allowing only one run and five hits to go along with 10 strikeouts. Fogarty went 3-for-4 with two home runs, a triple and six RBIs.

Clarke came back with a decisive 9-2 win in the winner take all game three thanks to a three-hit complete game effort from Chris Caizza.

Clarke hosts No. 15 Island Trees in game one of the best-of-three semifinals on Monday.

“They have great tradition and we’ve had great hard fought series with them including some finals,” Abruscato said. “Coach D’Auria does a great job with them regardless of the year.”