This time Andres Auffant got to celebrate a state tournament and feel great about it.
The Center Moriches righty was on the mound and got the victory when the Red Devils won a state tournament regional last year, but felt he had not performed to his ability.
There was no way he could feel that way after Thursday’s Long Island Class B baseball championship game against Cold Spring Harbor. The senior twirled a four-hit shutout in a 3-0 victory for Center Moriches’ fifth Long Island title and second in a row.
The win propels the defending state champions back to the regionals. The Devils (24-0) will meet either Westlake or Marlboro Central at 4 p.m. Saturday on the same field for a trip to the state semifinals in Binghamton.
“I didn’t pitch as well as I wanted in the state tournament last year and loved getting another chance at it,” Auffant said. “I went out there aggressive and had a lot of fun with it.”
Rob Copozzi scored what proved to be the game-winning run in the second inning when he dashed home from third base on Leyton Pulsipher’s sacrifice fly to centerfield. He punctuated the effort with a solo homer to right field in the sixth for the three-run edge.
“On third base, I knew I had to score on that fly ball,” Copozzi said. “It’s a winner-take-all game, and not a series (like the Suffolk postseason) so one run could be the difference.”
“The win-or-go-home (format) definitely focused our energy,” Auffant said. “I doesn’t matter that we went undefeated for the regular season. If we lose once now, we’re out. We have to stay on top of everything.”
He certainly was. He struck out only two but got 14 ground balls, two which got turned into double plays. Three of the hits against Auffant came with two outs as the potent offense of Cold Spring Harbor (20-6) found no traction. It didn’t help that the Seahawks had a two-week layoff and weren’t able to find a scrimmage to help stay sharp.
“Auffant was outstanding in that he just kept us off-balance all game,” CSH coach Rich Greeney said. “You have to hand it to him. He was very good in a very big game.”
Theo Farynick pitched a complete game while battling cramps and had two hits for CSH.
Center Moriches coach Dennis Donovan should be impressed with the talent and experience on his team — most of the key players from the state title team returned for this season — but is more impressed with the team’s disposition. “I really like how hungry they came back,” he said.
“You have a team that wins it all last year and you have most of that team back,” he explained. “Sometimes, you’ll have guys who think that they’ve done it and it’s an automatic that they’ll get back. Not these guys.
“They are resourceful and find ways to win. Their approach to every game is exciting.”