Hauppauge's captain and ace, Nick Fanti, looked forward to this day all season. It was the opening game of a three-game series against West Babylon, the defending league champion, with its hard-throwing ace, Tim Kranz, on the mound.
"I wouldn't want it any other way," Fanti said. "They swept us last season. So we circled the last series of the season as a big one."
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Fanti wasn't going to be denied. The lefthander fired a three-hit shutout, his fifth of the season, struck out seven, walked two and hit one batter in a 5-0 win over host West Babylon in a Suffolk League V baseball game.
Fanti improved to 7-0 with an ERA of 0.64 and 75 strikeouts. He has allowed only 10 hits in 44 innings. Fanti gave up his first extra-base hit of the season when Nick Gilley doubled to lead off the first inning. West Babylon (12-6, 10-6) managed only singles from Nick Squillante and Kranz the rest of the game.
"I've run out of superlatives," Hauppauge coach Josh Gutes said. "He is having a dream season. He's broken so many school records and continues to be a true leader. He ignited both of our rallies and dominated a good offensive team."
The matchup of two of Long Island's top Division I pitching prospects drew 10 MLB scouts. Fanti, who will play at Marist in the fall and Kranz, who will play for Stony Brook, both dazzled early. The Phillies scout had Fanti clocked at 89-91 mph and Kranz at 88-89.
Kranz struck out five, including the side in the third, and took a perfect game into the fourth. He retired leadoff man Billy Huber on a groundout before Fanti lined a first-pitch fastball up the middle to end the bid.
"He was throwing well and that fastball was elevated and I stayed on top of it," said Fanti, who is hitting .555 with 23 RBIs and 34 runs scored. "We beat a great pitcher out there today."
After Fanti stole second, PJ Contreras lined a run-scoring single to left for a 1-0 lead. Contreras moved to third when Tyler Sanderson singled and scored on Devin Jenny's sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
"Kranz had us early but we battled the second time around," Contreras said. "He's the best pitcher we've seen this season."
Hauppauge (17-1, 16-0) added two runs in the sixth. Fanti singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Sanderson's double. Jenny's single drove in Sanderson for a 4-0 lead. Hauppauge tacked on a run in the seventh.
Kranz exited after six innings. He struck out seven and allowed six hits, but was undone by four errors.
"Any time you get a win over a pitcher of his caliber you're making a statement," Gutes said. "We had some excellent two-strike at-bats."
Fanti, whose numbers are staggering on the mound and at the plate, credited his team with great defense and timely hitting.
"We're a very good team," he said. "Everyone contributes here."