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SportsColumnistsGregg Sarra

At Amityville, if you’re counting just the runs, you’re missing the score

Amityville's Louie Fernandez had an eventful Mother's Day

Amityville's Louie Fernandez had an eventful Mother's Day week since his mom got to watch one of his high school games for the first time. Credit: Richard T. Slattery

There’s no crying in baseball — unless they’re tears of joy.

Though Amityville outfielder Louie Fernandez endured 54 straight losses in his three-year varsity career and says he never got emotional, there were tears of joy Thursday because his mother finally was able to come watch him play.

It was her Mother’s Day gift to him.

Thursday was the Warriors’ senior day and this would be the last time Fernandez put on an Amityville jersey. So when he saw his mother, Miralia Gonzalez, that was it.

“I gave her a red rose and she gave me a big hug and I lost it,” he said. “She works seven days a week to support our family and doesn’t have the time to come to the games. It was so special for her to see me play.”

Thursday’s storybook beginning didn’t have a fairy-tale ending, though. Amityville lost to East Hampton, 12-2, to finish 0-18 for the third consecutive season.

“It was a very emotional day for all of us because they’re a great group of kids and the season was over,” Amityville coach Chris Diot said. “Louie is our leader and was so overwhelmed by having his mom at the game. It was beautiful.”

With the season a wrap and that first win still elusive, Fernandez took some time to reflect on his high school career. The 17-year-old, who works between 30 and 35 hours a week to help his mother pay the rent, called his baseball experience wonderful.

“With the last out made, it was a sad moment in our lives but still such an amazing day spent with my best friends and coaches,” Fernandez said. “It was my last home game and playing for my high school. I’m going to miss everyone and all the laughs and good times. I learned to love the game and how to hit and play the outfield. Baseball is a game, it’s not life.”

Diot, in his fourth year as head coach, said yes, the losing streak — now 62 games — is a burden but also a badge of honor for kids who continue to play for the love of the game.

“We look forward to practice,” Diot said. “There’s no pressure, no losing streak hanging over us, no one judging how we play or don’t play. It’s just baseball and kids.

“Guys have to work to help make ends meet at home and they miss practice. Others don’t have all the top baseball gear. Some have after-school academic work. Others miss practice for personal reasons. But when they’re here, it’s an outlet and they’re like sponges and having fun.”

You’d never know that junior Patrick Abate, a sturdy catcher, plays on a winless team. He goes about the business of playing baseball. His body language is always positive.

“These guys are all my friends and they love baseball,” said Abate, a college prospect. “We’re in a very tough league but have the courage to come out and play hard every day, and that counts.”

Diot has embraced Amityville and is determined to change things.

“From my perspective, my kids are all winners,” he said. “They endure losing day in and day out and never give up, never quit, never walk away. We could be in the fifth inning of a game and getting creamed and if you drove up to the field and didn’t know the score, you’d never know we were losing. Our guys are always up.”

League VII champion Shoreham-Wading River beat Amityville badly at Fireman’s Field in Ridge three weeks ago. As Shoreham went to the bus, the Amityville players were lined up at an ice cream truck.

“Shoreham is getting on the bus and one of our guys says, ‘Hey, I worked this week and just got paid,’ ” Diot said. “He pulls out $100 and takes the whole team over to the Mister Softee truck. You’d have thought we won.”

Amityville assistant coach Jack Zider sees it like this:

“Our opponents are learning that there’s more to playing baseball than winning,” he said. “They’re learning compassion, sportsmanship and that winning really isn’t everything.”

Fernandez made a surprise visit to his mother’s factory job Friday. He saved enough money to buy her a pair of comfortable shoes, earrings and a Pandora bracelet for Mother’s Day.

She cried.

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