Some high school athletes never get to experience a championship parade. Liam Pulsipher of Center Moriches experienced two in the last seven months.
“For some people, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’ve been lucky enough to do it twice in one year,” said Pulsipher, who threw a two-hit shutout in the state Class B baseball semifinals. “It’s great to see the town come together and see all your family and friends there with the sirens from the firetrucks and it was very surreal.”
Pulsipher has been part of a historic year for Center Moriches. Matt Alifano, David Franchi, Jim Pfister and Pulsipher were members of both the school’s state champion boys soccer and baseball teams.
Center Moriches faced its most challenging moment of the season in the state Class B baseball championship game. Trailing Binghamton Seton Catholic Central by four runs heading into the bottom of the sixth inning at NYSEG Stadium in Binghamton, the Red Devils put together a comeback for the ages, scoring seven runs in the inning in a 10-7 win and the first state title in program history.
“It was like running out to the mound like a little kid in Little League,” catcher Alec Maag said. “It was the best moment of my career winning the state championship.”
Center Moriches coach Dennis Donovan called Brad Sakellardies’ single after a 10-pitch at-bat to lead off the bottom of the sixth the decisive moment of the game.
“That whole fight there really turned the team around,” Donovan said. “Everyone was pumped up and everyone started chipping away.”
But it was not easy for Center Moriches, which finished the season with its best record in four years at 23-4. The Red Devils lost twice to rival Babylon in the regular season, but were able to beat Babylon for the Suffolk Class B championship.
“Being around the game and knowing baseball, it’s usually how you adjust to failure,” Donovan said. “No matter how talented you are, you always experience failure. It’s something we talked about all year. It started in league with facing Babylon. For whatever reason they had our number. It started early and they were able to get through Babylon and just got better throughout the year.”
“Last year in baseball we lost in the counties, so we were coming back with a chip on our shoulders this year,” Franchi said. “We knew we had something special coming.”
The team arrived home at around 9:30 p.m. after winning the state title earlier in the day on June 9. They were greeted by the state champion boys soccer team, along with family, friends and fans.
The team rode on fire trucks through town, while people waved from their houses.
“Coming from a small community it’s really nice to have them rally behind you,” Donovan said.
“To be a part of it was unreal,” Maag said. “It was the best part, honestly. Everyone was there. Seeing all my friends there who couldn’t make it upstate, it was just special. It was the best part of the whole entire day.”
ROAD TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Suffolk B championship
Babylon, 6-0 (L)
Babylon, 3-2 (W)
Long Island championship
Marlboro Central 5-1
Albany Academy for Boys, 4-0
Binghamton Seton Catholic Central, 10-7