Alex Demas #21 of Bellmore JFK connects for a tie-breaking,...

Alex Demas #21 of Bellmore JFK connects for a tie-breaking, two-run single to give the Cougars a 4-2 lead over Carey in the bottom of the fifth inning in Game 3 of the Nassau Class AA semifinals on Wednesday, May 22, 2024.  Credit: James Escher

The Bellmore JFK baseball program arrived on Wednesday and it was way ahead of schedule.

The Cougars start seven players who are freshmen or sophomores and so the prevailing thinking would be that they could be the team of the future. The future, however, is now after they came from behind to defeat visiting Carey, 6-3, in the deciding Game 3 of the teams’ Nassau Class AA semifinal series.

Second-seeded Bellmore JFK (20-3-2) advanced to a county championship series for just the second time in school history and first since 2016 and meets Division in Game 1 on Saturday at Farmingdale State. The Cougars are seeking a first county crown against a program that has won 19.

Asked about the notion of winning the school’s first title, freshman Ryan Yormack replied, “We’d live forever.”

The cornerstone of their Game 3 triumph was the performance of the one senior starter, righthander Jack Finkelstein. He is in his fourth postseason and pitched from ahead all game. He threw 22 first-pitch strikes to the 29 batters he faced in 6 2/3 innings before a blister he’d battled since the fifth frame took an impact. Yormack came on to get a strikeout for the save and ended up in the center of a raucous celebration.

“I’ve waited a long time to pitch in a game like this and I admit I was nervous, but I came out looking to throw strikes,” said Finkelstein, who allowed three runs on five hits and three walks with five strikeouts. “Pressure is something you put in your tires.”

Carey (18-9) trailed 1-0 early before Rob Nunez started a two-run rally in the top of the fifth with a single to the hole between shortstop and third. Pinch-runner Giancarlo Carbone stole second, took third when a strikeout went for a 2-3 putout and scored on a Finkelstein balk. Nick Medoro singled in Jayden Gigante for a 2-1 lead.

The Cougars struck right back with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Freshman Derek Yormack’s run-scoring single tied it and sophomore Alex Demas followed him with a two-run single down inside the first base bag and into right field.

“Our lineup get is done one-through-nine,” Demas said. “We don’t quit.”

“We’re young but we have a lot of experience winning close games and getting that lead right back was kind of the story of our season,” JFK coach Mike Gattus said. “When they get down they don’t get tight like seniors might, thinking about the end. They’re almost too young to realize the gravity of those moments.”

The Seahawks already had taken out top-seeded MacArthur and wasn’t done yet. In the seventh a run scored on a Mark Vera single and Carey brought the tying run to the plate before Ryan Yormack came on to close it out.

Gattus calls the Yormack twins – freshman who have both already committed to Duke – “once-in-a-lifetime players.”

The Cougars, however, now have a first-in-history opportunity.

“This has always been a team and never a bunch of individuals,” Derek Yormack said. “Together we have the grit to win.”


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