BBP's Jack Piekos shuts down Division machine
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Jack Piekos was in full control Saturday. He was all about rhythm and pace. He pounded the strike zone with a nice mix of two- and four-seam fastballs, curveball, slider and changeup. It was a repertoire that not even Division, which averaged 13 runs per game, could solve.
The Maryland-bound Piekos fired a five-hitter, struck out six and walked none in a masterful performance as Bayport-Blue Point shut out Division, 3-0, to claim its second straight Southeast Regional final / Long Island Class A baseball championship at Dowling Athletic Complex in Shirley. It was the first time Division had been shut out all season. Piekos was so stingy, he never allowed a Blue Dragons baserunner to reach third base.
It was the second time the Phantoms earned back-to-back Long Island titles, also achieving the feat in 2003-04. The Phantoms (20-6) will head to Binghamton on Saturday to defend their state crown against an opponent to be determined.
"This was a team that really came together as the year wore on," Piekos said. "We struggled a little offensively at the start of the season and then got better and better. What we have is three things -- great pitching, excellent defense and outstanding team chemistry."
Piekos received all the run support he needed in the three-run first inning. Bayport-Blue Point (19-6) reached Division starter Chris Reilly for three runs and four hits, including a run-scoring double by designated hitter Dan Campanelli.
"We had a mistake on positioning on a bunt attempt in that inning," Division coach Tom Tuttle said. "And they capitalized for a big inning. I thought Piekos was a stud. He had good stuff, great composure and he competes. We had far too many fly ball outs."
Piekos sailed through the middle innings, retiring 16 of 18 hitters, including five by strikeout. Centerfielder Matt McKinnon made seven putouts for a defense that played flawlessly.
"When you pitch in a big park, it's good to know that your centerfielder is tracking all of those balls for easy outs," said Piekos, who improved to 10-1 with 117 strikeouts.
McKinnon laughed about his workload in centerfield.
"It's easy when Jack is on the mound," McKinnon said. "He's a proven winner. And I liked playing on the bigger field."
Reilly was equally impressive from the second through sixth innings, settling down to allow only three hits and a walk. But it was all about Piekos, who never let the Blue Dragons get going.
He caught the final batter looking at a nasty slider for a called strike three.
"This team and last year's state championship team don't really compare in any way," said Bayport-Blue Point coach Jim Moccio, whose team also holds a 28-game home winning streak. "They're just different. But we knew we had excellent pitching and we could do well in the postseason. And everything fell into place."