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Bellmore JFK, Mepham help raise money for Hope for the Warriors organization

Triple-amputee Bryan Dilberian throws out the first pitch

Triple-amputee Bryan Dilberian throws out the first pitch before a game between Bellmore JFK and Mepham at Farmingdale State College on April 10, 2015. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Forget what the scoreboard at Farmingdale State College said Friday night.

"I want to emphasize that there were no losers here. This game was for a great cause. We raised a lot of money and there were heroes here," Bellmore JFK coach Eric Passman said after his team defeated Mepham, 9-0, in a non-league baseball game that served as a fundraiser for Hope for the Warriors, an organization whose stated aim is to enhance the lives of post 9/11 service members and their families.

The two "heroes" Passman referenced were U.S. Army Specialist Bryan Dilberian and U.S. Army Sgt. Stephen Thomas, both of whom were wounded in Afghanistan. Both stood on the pitcher's mound and threw ceremonial first pitches before the game.

A crowd of about 200 people stood and cheered the soldiers, as did the players on both teams. The players wore new camouflage uniforms to commemorate the occasion.

"Coach [Bill] Murphy from Mepham and I decided to play this game to raise money and help the families of these heroes who came home for the war," Passman said. "The kids had a lot of fun. They are all from the same school district and they know each other. They got new jerseys and got to play in a college stadium. And we made sure to get everyone into the game."

Bellmore JFK (5-2) put this one away early by scoring four runs in each of the first two innings. Greg Goller drew a one-out walk to start the first rally, quietly. Then came the noise.

Eric Pauly drilled a laser into the left-centerfield gap for a triple and scored on Jon Hulkhower's double down the leftfield line. Hulkhower scored on another double inside third base by Tyler Griffith.

The Cougars doubled their output with another four-spot in the second inning.

Nick Lisi started this rally with a single. Goller reached on an error and Pauly singled to left to load the bases with none out. Hulkhower was hit by a pitch to force home one run. George Savas' single to center scored two more and Reid Oreste's two-out single scored Hulkhower to make it 8-0.

"We just kept hitting line drive after line drive out there. We don't usually do that," Passman said. "I hope we can keep it up."

Savas and Frank Bruno each were sharp in tossing two shutout innings each. Savas struck out four and Bruno whiffed three and was credited with the victory.

But the real winners Friday night didn't play a single inning.

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