Center Moriches baseball coach Dennis Donovan has seen Liam Pulsipher evolve into the pitcher he wants on the mound when the game matters most. The senior proved why in his final varsity start.
Pulsipher tossed a two-hitter with no walks and two strikeouts — facing one batter over the minimum — as Center Moriches beat Albany Academy for Boys, 4-0, in the state Class B semifinals Friday afternoon at Maine-Endwell High School in Binghamton.
“I was excited,” Pulsipher said. “It’s not every day you get to pitch in a state semifinal, but I like to keep my nerves and excitement to a minimum because I like to tell myself it’s just another game. To go out there and throw the way I did in a state semifinal, it’s definitely something special.”
His coach wasn’t surprised.
“The bigger the game, the better he is,” Donovan said. “He truly lives for these moments and you don’t see it often from kids his age. A lot of kids kind of shy away from that moment, but he wants that big moment.”
Center Moriches (22-4) advances to its first state championship game in program history and plays Seton Catholic Central at 1 p.m. Saturday at NYSEG Stadium in Binghamton. Albany Academy finishes 24-3.
Pulsipher was efficient throughout Friday, throwing 76 pitches. His two strikeouts were against the final batters of the game.
“We’ve had him four years and each year he seems to be getting better and better, but today was probably the best outing I’ve seen out of him,” Donovan said. “He just had everything clicking and the kid’s a competitor. He finds ways and it was something special to watch.”
All four of Center Moriches’ runs came in the fourth inning. It started with David Falco’s leadoff double, and he later scored on an error by the catcher. The top of the order put together a two-out rally that began with David Franchi’s walk, followed by Matt Alifano’s two-run double to drive in pinch-runner Bobby Pelosi and Corey Stengel for a 3-0 lead. Pulsipher added the game’s final run with an RBI single to drive in Franchi.
Now, Center Moriches has the chance to make history Saturday.
“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” Donovan said. “They’ve earned this opportunity, which is great, and no matter what, they’ll remember this for the rest of their lives.”
Said Pulsipher, “We’re just trying to focus on getting ready for tomorrow and not get ahead of ourselves. But we’re very excited. We can’t wait to wake up in the morning and go play baseball.”