Alex Robinson was his typical humble self. The imposing Holy Trinity lefty pitched two scoreless innings, including four strikeouts against the best senior hitters from Suffolk.
The performance earned Robinson the MVP award as Nassau defeated Suffolk, 4-2, late Friday night in the eighth RTC Rawlings Grand Slam Challenge at Farmingdale State College, featuring the top senior baseball players from both counties. His 92-mph fastball was on full display as he threw 25 pitches, 18 for strikes.
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"I was very excited to go out and give it all I had for a few innings," Robinson said. "I knew we were facing some very good hitters."
Robinson walked Longwood's Rob Moore but went on to retire six in a row, including three straight by strikeout, including Commack's Charles Galiano, who was drafted this week by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Galiano had a wicked hack at strike two but struck out looking on a beautiful backdoor curveball.
"That's the best stuff I've seen this season," Galiano said. "Nassau had some great pitching. But it was fun to compete against those guys."
Bayport-Blue Point's Steve Longo got Suffolk on the board in the third inning with an inside-the-park home run. Longo drilled a line drive at MacArthur centerfielder Will Cheshire, who moved to his left before stumbling on the turf and allowing the ball to go over his head. Rightfielder Seth Noreman gave chase and started a perfect relay to the plate as Longo raced around the bases, sliding in just ahead of the tag by catcher Chris Hardardt for a 1-0 lead.
"It doesn't get any more exciting than an inside-the-park homer," Longo said. "That was my first one ever."
Cheshire got a measure of revenge in his next at-bat. Nassau loaded the bases with a hit batsman and two walks with no outs in the top of the fourth inning and Cheshire lined a two-run single for a 2-1 lead.
"I wanted to drive the ball somewhere and got a nice pitch to hit." Cheshire said.
The big hit keyed a three-run inning as Hardardt added an RBI groundout to score Noreman for a 3-1 lead.
"This game showcased some of Long Island's very best pitchers," Galiano said. "It was an honor to be part of something that included the best senior talent around and supported a great cause."
The RTC Challenge is played in memory of former Bethpage catcher Ryan Caulfield, a Diamond Award winner, who set the single-season Nassau record for RBIs in a season with 58. Caulfield died at age 23 from complications from lupus in 2000 while playing baseball at New York Tech.
"This event has grown exponentially in the fight to find a cure for lupus," RTC founder Butch Caulfield said. "We do it in memory of my brother and to help all the people who are afflicted with the disease."
Connetquot's Mike Rizzitello earned the Rawlings catcher of the game award, for throwing out a would-be base stealer and his line drive base hit. East Islip's John Dondero was the Suffolk MVP with a spectacular diving catch in centerfield and a base hit. Herricks' Alex Katz won the pitching award with a 1-2-3 inning, including two strikeouts, and Cheshire took home the best hitter award.