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Suffolk CC has 2 title shots on diamonds

Suffolk Community College baseball player Kyle Weeks sets

Suffolk Community College baseball player Kyle Weeks sets his feet before making a throw. (May 12, 2011) Credit: Bob Mitchell

Suffolk Community College has that championship feeling right about now.

The merger of the school's Brentwood and Selden athletic programs is complete and the Sharks have World Series-bound teams in baseball and softball to show for it.

The softball team, which has operated as a merged program for several years, begins its quest for the NJCAA Division III title Thursday against Itasca (Minn.) in Rochester, Minn. This will be the team's third consecutive trip to the Series.

The newly merged baseball team starts its title drive in Tyler, Texas, on Saturday against New Jersey-based Gloucester CC (28-16). The Sharks (32-12) were ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA Division III baseball poll released Wednesday.

"It's been one of those dream seasons so far," said coach Eric Brown, who's recorded 543 career wins in 26 years, including 25 at Selden before the merger. "I have a bunch of unselfish young men on this squad who really have come together and made a commitment to the team. They really don't care who gets the publicity. They just go out and get the job done.

"Different days, it's different guys."

That includes Kyle Lombardo, a shortstop from Ward Melville, and a pair of players who transferred in during the fall, Manorville's Michael Annunziata and Ward Melville's Matthew LaRocca.

Annunziata is batting .352 with 45 hits, 27 RBIs, 39 runs scored and eight doubles. But perhaps the most impressive thing has been his play at catcher, setting up behind the plate for the first time since he was a sophomore in high school.

LaRocca, a third baseman/pitcher who sports a 4-1 record, is part of a solid staff that features All-American nominee Ray Angelucci, a Commack native. Angelucci (7-1) leads the team in wins, has allowed only 29 hits and struck out 70 in 551/3 innings and boasts an ERA of 2.12.

Brown said Angelucci's fastball can reach 90 miles per hour, and his arsenal of a curve, changeup and slider makes him a formidable ace for a team hungry for a title.

"Our mission was set very early," Brown said. "That's what we've pursued."

The softball Sharks (21-18) will try to ride their three All-American nominees, spearheaded by sophomore ace Christina Seppi -- whose 1.69 ERA ranks sixth in the nation -- when they hit the field at McQuillan Softball Complex for their matchup today with Itasca CC (30-14).

Suffolk will look for more of the same from two key offensive catalysts, shortstop Samantha Carcano and catcher Meaghan Fox. Leadoff hitter Carcano has batted a combined .534 the past two seasons, and Fox has belted eight homers this season.

Joe LoBianco, who picked up his 100th career win with assistant Rick Antinori during the season, thinks a grueling schedule has his team ready for the challenge that lies ahead.

"When we're good, we are real good," he said. "We go up and down a little, but we can beat anybody. This last week, we've been on a real roll and if we are peaking at the right time, I think we can beat anybody in the country."

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