Pitching, defense, small ball carried Bayport-Blue Point
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Shortstop Alex Dura fielded a sharp ground ball off the bat of Williamsville South's Mike Calandra and raised his arms as he took a few steps towards second base to record the final out in the state championship game.
It was another solid, yet unspectacular, play by a Bayport-Blue Point baseball player.
Early in the season the Phantoms preached defense, pitching and small ball. On the last day of the season at NYSEG Stadium in Binghamton it was those same qualities that helped Bayport-Blue Point com- plete a perfect 27-0 season and capture the Class A state championship.
No team made more plays or had more little things add up the way BBP did. The Phantoms are the first Suffolk Class A team to win every game in a season since Huntington in 1949. BBP is also the first Suffolk team to go undefeated and win the state championship, which began in 1981, and the first Suffolk team since Whitman went 29-0-1 in 1975 to finish a season without a loss.
The Phantoms relied on an offense that moved runners along, got timely hits and used its speed to take extra bases. BBP hit only one home run the entire season -- by outfielder Mike Alliegro in a playoff win over Miller Place.
"We've been saying all year long that anybody who is in the box -- we felt like they were going to get a hit,'' coach Jim Moccio said. "Either a hit or going to have a productive out and they bought into the system of playing up tempo. Bunts and doubles are what we try to do and they're all good at it . . . No one ever bought into it like this team did.''
It also helped to have a dominant 1-2 punch like Jack Piekos and Chris Brewer in the starting rotation. Add in third starter Ryan Dollop and closer P.J. Weeks and the BBP staff kept the team in every game.
Piekos (11-0) and Brewer (9-0) combined to win all seven games in BBP's playoff run, including a no-hitter by Piekos against Rocky Point in the first round and a four-hit shutout on three days rest by the lefty in the state semifinals.
"Going into this year to have two kids going 11-0 and 9-0, it's insane,'' Brewer said after winning the championship game. "It's two of the top winning pitchers on Long Island on one team.''
Sending a quality starter out every game -- each with a distinct style -- played a big part in the Phantoms' success.
"It helped us out having a contrast,'' Brewer said. "Jack would usually throw hard fastballs and curveballs and I'd come in with two-seamers and sliders to throw them off and keep them off balance and Ryan would come in with the knuckle drop and they'd never see the same type of pitches.''
Keeping the opposition off balance and under pressure is what the Phantoms did best.
"We capitalize on pitchers' and defenses' mistakes -- it's what we've done all year,'' Piekos said. "We're very big on capitalizing, we're never going to be one of those teams that hit eight doubles in a game or a couple of home runs, so we capitalize on everybody else's mistakes.''