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Anthony Fontana pitches, hits Wantagh to brink of championship

Wantagh defeated Garden City, 3-2, in Game 1 of the Nassau Class A championship, at SUNY-Old Westbury, on Saturday May 27, 2017. (Newsday/Owen O'Brien)

Anthony Fontana was about as efficient as it gets Saturday for Wantagh. Almost to a fault.

“He was throwing almost too many strikes, which was pitching to too much contact,” coach Keith Sachs said. “But once he finds the rhythm between fastball, curveball, he just keeps pumping strikes and we just hope to play defense.”

No. 9 Wantagh, the defending Class A state champions, used Fontana’s efficiency in an 86-pitch complete game to defeat No. 4 Garden City, 3-2, in Game 1 of a best-of-three baseball series for the Nassau Class A championship at SUNY Old Westbury.

Game 2 will be 2 p.m. Sunday at SUNY Old Westbury.

Fontana worked through some early control and location issues but didn’t allow a runner to reach base after the third inning. He allowed four hits, a walk and a hit batsman with four strikeouts.

“I just really had to dig deep and focus,” Fontana said, “and once I figured that out, I think I was dominant.”

He said Sachs told him Thursday he’d be getting the Game 1 start and the junior worked throughout the week to prepare for it.

“I love competition and that’s what I play for,” Fontana said. “And to get the starting job for Game 1 of counties, I was very excited.”

Wantagh (20-4) took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning with a two-out rally started by Anthony D’Onofrio’s single. John Conroy followed with a single before Jimmy Joyce ripped a first-pitch fastball into rightfield for a hit to drive in D’Onofrio. Fontana followed a batter later with a double to left-centerfield to drive in Conroy and Joyce.

“The inning’s not over until it’s over and if we can get a hit, we’ll take a hit,” Joyce said. “But I’m proud of everyone who stepped up there to get a hit. We had like four hits in a row, it was huge.”

Garden City (19-5-1) answered with two runs in the bottom of the third with Tom Reifler scoring on a throwing error and Rich Marooney driving in Mike Handal with an RBI single.

The Warriors improved to 6-0 in the postseason and have confidence going into a potential championship-clinching game.

“It’s huge,” Joyce said. “Now we play Game 2 with no pressure. All the pressure’s on them and that’s what we wanted. All throughout playoffs that’s how it’s been.”

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