It was pitch and catch at East Islip for senior John Rizzo. He fired a one-hitter and struck out 20 in a 9-0 win over Half Hollow Hills West earlier this season. The only ball put in play that was an out but not a strikeout was a ground ball for the last out of the first inning. He went on to strike out 18 of 19 batters, giving up a seeing-eye, fourth-inning single.

"The ball wasn’t hit hard but it snuck through the middle," said East Islip coach Sal J. Ciampi. "After the single he struck out 12 in a row to end the game."

Rizzo threw only 87 pitches, including five three-pitch strikeouts.

RAM TOUGH

Tyler Cox #9, Clarke pitcher, delivers to the plate during...

Tyler Cox #9, Clarke pitcher, delivers to the plate during the bottom of the fifth inning of a Nassau County Conference V baseball game against host Island Trees High School in Levittown on Thursday, May 20, 2021. Credit: James Escher

Clarke dominated the baseball landscape through its first six games in Nassau Conference V. Rams’ pitchers fired a perfect game, two no-hitters and a one-hitter and allowed only 11 hits in that span.

They turned in three consecutive shutouts to open the season.

Senior Tyler Cox threw a one-hitter with 13 strikeouts in a season-opening 12-0 win over Oyster Bay. Sean Welsh and Nick Giardino combined for a no-hitter in a 14-0 win over Oyster Bay. And Cox struck out 13 in a five-inning, no-hit gem in a 12-0 win over East Rockaway.

"I’d never seen that before," said Clarke coach Tom Abruscato. "It was a great start."

On May 17, Cox and Giardino combined for a perfect game in a 15-0 win over Carle Place. They both struck out six in that gem.

That 6-0 start was halted by righthander Vinny Giambona of Island Trees on Thursday afternoon. He turned the tables with a brilliant pitching performance, handing the Rams their first loss, 3-1. Giambona tossed a three-hitter with 12 strikeouts to outduel Cox, who allowed three unearned runs and struck out nine.

"Giambona was stellar and had a great day," Abruscato said. "He spotted his pitches well and threw nothing but strikes. We were on the other side of a great pitching performance."

BRIGHT SPOT

Centerfielder Vin Grieco of West Islip battled the sun to run down six fly balls in a 5-3 ninth inning win over Newfield. While the Lions defense dropped a few fly balls on starter Jake Rivera, it was the speedy sophomore that kept them in the game with fantastic defense.

"The sun field was brutal for us," said West Islip coach Shawn Rush. "Pregame everyone was struggling with the sun, so we were using glasses and shielding it with our gloves. Vin found a way to battle through it."

DIAMOND GEMS

First baseman Joe McDonald of Longwood has two inside-the-park home runs. This kid can drive the ball and when it finds the gap, he turns on the jets . . . Alex Czarnomski of West Islip had three relief appearances and three wins in four days and all in extra innings . . . Going completely against the pitching grain, Bayport Blue Point’s Luke Shartner hit three home runs in one game . . . Bellmore JFK slugger Zach Ganca is batting .714 with four extra- base hits and five RBIs . . . Lynbrook got its first victory of the season as Hunter Brenneis threw a three-hitter with 13 strikeouts in a 1-0 win over Valley Stream North . . . North Shore’s Luke Vaccaro is 3-0 with a save and has 30 strikeouts and two walks in 20 innings. He's also hitting .533 with two home runs and 15 RBIs.

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