Alec Maag said it was the best five-hour ride of his life. The Center Moriches catcher said he sat in the back of the team bus as it made its way out of the Catskill Mountains and toward Long Island late Saturday evening.
The bus carrying the state’s Class B baseball champions left Sunrise Highway at exit 59 and was met by area fire trucks from East Moriches and Center Moriches and escorted to a parade in town at 9:30 p.m. The team, which Maag said was singing hip-hop, rap, and anything that kept the mood celebratory, never really came down from the high of winning its second state Class B title in a row.
Earlier Saturday, Center Moriches disposed of Schuylerville in dominant fashion with an 11-1 rout to finish the season 26-0 and extend the school’s win streak to 41 games. Maag’s three-run home run in the first inning set the tone for the championship win at Binghamton University.
“You just never want it to end,” Maag said. “You want that ride with all the guys to just continue forever. It was our second time in a parade and it never gets old. We got off the bus and rode the fire trucks into town with all the people waiting for us and holding signs and screaming. It was such a cool welcome — something we’ll never forget.”
The Red Devils had completed one of the more historic runs in Long Island baseball history. They became the fifth team to finish a perfect season and only the second one in Suffolk to do so. Andt they are only the third team to win back-to-back state championships since 1983.
The last time a Suffolk team went undefeated through an entire baseball season was Bayport-Blue Point in 2013, when the Phantoms went 27-0 and won the state Class A title. The Phantoms also won the state title in 2014. Smithtown Christian captured the state Class D crown in 2014-15.
“This was a special team, led by a really talented and focused group of seniors,” said Center Moriches coach Dennis Donovan. “Our goal was to win a second state championship and that carried some pressure with it. Those are serious expectations. When the talk about being undefeated started to become our focus, that did not sit well with me. I was never concerned with being undefeated. If it happened, that’d be great, but it was always about winning another state title.”
That end was achieved as the Red Devils put it together on the mound and at the plate. Center Moriches had a 10-game winner in senior Andy Auffant (Franklin Pierce) and a nine-game winner in senior Matt Alifano (Adelphi). Sophomore Jordan Falco, who stepped into the third starting role, finished with a 6-0 record. Closer David Falco (Maryland) had a win and four saves and was a constant in the bullpen for the Red Devils.
“We’re a tight team and an unselfish group of guys,” Alifano said. “It was all about winning all the time. That’s all anyone cared about.”
How fitting the final two games were dominated by Red Devils pitching. Auffant and David Falco combined to beat Susquehanna Valley, 5-3, in the state semifinal. And then Alifano, the Suffolk League VIII MVP, shut down Schuylerville for four innings, before giving way to senior Nate Sigersen and Jordan Falco, who each threw an inning of scoreless relief in the title game won by the 10-run rule in six innings.
“We had 15 seniors that enjoyed the ride of a lifetime,” Alifano said. “We’re two-time state champs.”