Chris Cepeda leads Ward Melville to League I title
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Ward Melville began the week knowing it must sweep League I leader Commack in order to secure the league crown. By early Friday night the team had accomplished its goal, finishing off the sweep with a 10-2 win.
Spurred on by a two-run home run and 3-for-3 day at the plate from second baseman Chris Cepeda, Ward Melville (15-5) exploded for six runs in the third inning to pull away from Commack (15-5).
"We didn't want to let up," Cepeda said. "We just wanted to keep scoring runs because we know they can hit and we just wanted to keep scoring more."
Cepeda's home run followed a bases-clearing triple by freshman Nick Vitale and gave Ward Melville an 8-1 lead after three innings.
Greg Coman made the lead stand up, allowing two hits and two earned runs in 52/3 innings. Coman walked eight but struck out seven and was consistently able to pitch out of trouble.
"Greg struggled with his command a little bit but he's a very smart kid and a great competitor," Ward Melville coach Lou Petrucci said.
Coman walked three in the first inning but recovered by striking out Bobby Morse and inducing a fly ball from slugger Paul Maline. "I didn't have the greatest stuff but my defense supported me today," Coman said. "I know if I let them hit it and they put it in play that my defense would have me."
Coman walked two in the second inning but was bailed out when Cepeda made a slick play by charging a weak grounder and shoveling the ball to first base with his glove. Phil Carballeira made an equally adept scoop to complete the play.
Petrucci had nothing but praise for his junior second baseman. "He's the catalyst -- he's just a great hitter," Petrucci said. "And forget about the hitting, look at all the defensive plays he makes. I give Chris Cepeda all the credit in the world because defense is more important than anything here at Ward Melville."
The Patriots have won six in a row and eight of nine and head into the playoffs as League I champs.
"It's a great feeling," Coman said. "We haven't won that many league championships and to come here in my senior year and to come back like this and win the last three games is amazing."