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Anthony Papa pitches Division to LI Class A title

Division Avenue pitcher Anthony Papa, right, and catcher

Division Avenue pitcher Anthony Papa, right, and catcher Sean Cook celebrate after their team's 4-0 win over Bayport-Blue Point in the Long Island Class A baseball final at NYIT on Saturday, June 6, 2015. Papa pitched out of multiple jams, including one with the bases loaded and none out in the top of the third inning, to throw a complete game shutout. Photo Credit: James Escher

After Friday's practice, Division starting pitcher Anthony Papa had his teammates watch a video.

Papa pulled up the highlights of the 2014 Long Island Class A championship game loss to Bayport-Blue Point. The team watched the Phantoms celebrate as the Blue Dragons walked off the field with their heads down. They rewound the dogpile five times.

"I told the guys, you can't let this happen again," Papa said. "This has got to be our year. We don't want to see that dog pile again, we got to do it ourselves."

Next year's video will be more enjoyable for the Blue Dragons. Saturday Division defeated Bayport-Blue Point, 4-0, to win the L.I. title game at the New York Institute of Technology. It's the Blue Dragons' first Long Island championship victory since 2011.

Division (26-4) plays Byram Hills Saturday at 10 a.m. in a state semifinal at Maine-Endwell High School in Binghamton.

Both Division and BBP (21-6) won their Class A county championship games in rematches from the year before. But the Blue Dragons flipped the script in the Long Island game.

"We made sure the whole entire team wanted revenge," Papa said. "Not just one, not two. We needed everybody."

And Papa needed everybody. The returning All-Long Island pitcher suffered an arm injury in the preseason and couldn't pitch much this year.

Papa relied on his teammates earlier in the season to take his spot on the mound, and Saturday he needed them to back him on the field.

Papa threw a six-hitter with two walks while pitching out of jams in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

"Typical Anthony," said head coach Tom Tuttle, "he gears up, he pitches big in big spots and sometimes he pitches better when he has some adversity."

Division scored two runs in the first inning off a throwing error by BBP pitcher Jake Scimone and an RBI single by Romnel Ocampo, who was celebrating his 17th birthday. Ocampo was 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a "happy birthday" serenated by Division fans.

"As soon as I heard the crowd sing happy birthday to me, it just pumped me up," Ocampo said. "It made me happy."

When Tyler Epple caught the final out in rightfield, Papa threw his glove in the air, embraced catcher Sean Cook for a hug on the mound and lived the moment he has longed for since eighth grade.

Said pitcher and outfielder James Varela: "You couldn't have asked for anything better than to be able to go upstate your senior year."


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