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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 scene 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 dogpile again. We got to do it ourselves."

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

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

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

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

And Papa did need 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 on Saturday he needed them to back him on the field.

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

"Typical Anthony," coach Tom Tuttle said. "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 on a throwing error and an RBI single by Romnel Ocampo, who was celebrating his 17th birthday. Ocampo was 2-for-2 with two RBIs, and Division fans serenaded him.

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

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

Said 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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