Bobby Lewis was a wide-eyed freshman, playing sparingly and learning from his older teammates when MacArthur won its sixth straight conference championship last year.
Now a sophomore and the Generals' No. 2 starter, Lewis applied what he observed to MacArthur's quest for another title. He threw six scoreless innings, striking out eight and scattering seven hits with a walk as the Generals beat Valley Stream Central, 7-0, to lock up the Conference AA-3 title Tuesday at Firemen's Memorial Field.
"It's a great experience," said Lewis, who also went 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI. "Last year we had the older guys do it and that prepared me for this season. I got to see what kind of situations I would be in and what pressure I would be under."
There was plenty of pressure.
Valley Stream Central (9-7) left the bases loaded twice and stranded two in the fifth. Lewis primarily had to rely on his fastball in those spots because coach Steve Costello said "the slider was intermittent," but that one pitch got the job done.
"His fastball was moving," catcher Matt McNally said. "On 3-2 counts he really got down with his fastballs, located real well. That was big to get us out of the jams."
The Generals (12-4) staked Lewis to a 4-0 lead before he took the mound, scoring four runs with two outs in the top of the first. Vin Martino, who went 2-for-3, singled in a run, and Brandon Kustek (2-for-4 with two runs scored), doubled in Brian Quinn and Martino a batter later. Then Lewis stroked a single to center, scoring Kustek.
Valley Stream Central threatened in its half of the first, loading the bases with two outs, but Lewis induced a groundout on a 2-2 fastball to escape.
MacArthur tacked on three more runs in the fourth, as Mike Brown singled in Kustek and Brian Perez singled in Lewis and Brown.
Valley Stream Central had its chances the rest of the way, but Lewis and reliever Brandon Fitzgerald shut the door each time. "They threatened a lot," Costello said. "We got a break where some balls were hit right at us."
That and Lewis helped the Generals lock up their seventh straight conference title. "I knew it was a big game," Lewis said, "but I just came out and did my thing, knowing my coaches and teammates were behind me."