NYACK, N.Y. — The hole had reached eight runs deep for Babylon.
But Joe Hanson stood in the dugout during the fifth inning Saturday, talking about the “impossible” things this team did to make the Southeast Regional baseball final against Albertus Magnus. The senior wanted to believe the Panthers had another comeback left in them in order to score a ticket to the Class B state semifinals.
“I saw what we did this season,” Hanson said after throwing three scoreless innings in relief. “I saw what we did in counties and the LIC. I wouldn’t put it past us.”
They came from behind to beat Center Moriches in eight innings for their Suffolk title and rallied from three runs down in the ninth against Seaford Thursday to claim their Long Island championship.
But this time the Panthers managed just one more run and fell to the Section I champ, 9-2, at Nyack High.
One of the great baseball seasons in Babylon history was over.
“This is going to be remembered for decades, definitely the rest of our lives,” said Dan Madsen, the senior ace, who pitched brilliantly Thursday and played first and had two hits in the finale. “We’ll be coming back at reunions, talking about it. We could talk about the season for hours on end. It’s really special.”
They will reminisce about the 20-0 start, the league, county and conference titles, the postseason comebacks and the 23-2 finish.
“Nobody thought we were going to make it this far,” Hanson said.
Babylon hurt its cause with four errors, and it managed just five singles off three Falcons pitchers, including Pat Veintimilla. The 6-5 junior righty yielded one run and two hits and struck out seven over the first four.
So Albertus Magnus, from Bardonia in Rockland County, qualified for the program’s first state final four. The 19-6 Falcons will face Section 4 champ Lansing Friday at Union-Endicott High.
“It’s a fantastic feeling,” coach Matt Rivera said.
Rivera said that he “figured it would be a tough game,” praising the Panthers’ hitting ability and athleticism. But …
“We just struggled,” Madsen said. “We were gassed from two days earlier. It’s tough to get out there and do it again. But we gave it our all. We tried.”
Their pitching and defense had been superb this season. But in the first, they made two outfield throwing errors, resulting in an unearned run off Aidan Kistner.
The sophomore lefty, who finished 7-2, was then tagged for four second-inning runs with two outs. Jack Gallagher ripped a two-run single into left to cap the rally.
After Babylon got one back on a balk in the third, Albertus Magnus scored four more off Kistner in the fourth to make it 9-1 before Hanson took over. There were also two errors and another Gallagher two-run single in that inning.
“Heck of a year,” Panthers coach Michael Birnbaum said. “… We’re senior-heavy. It’s a special bunch. They’re passing the baton right now to the sophomores, the juniors, the underclassmen. We’ll be back.”