BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — A comeback for the ages.
That’s what it took for the Center Moriches baseball team to earn the first state championship in school history.
Trailing by four runs heading into the bottom of the sixth Saturday, the Red Devils scored seven times in the inning in a 10-7 win over Binghamton Seton Catholic Central in the state Class B final at NYSEG Stadium.
Robert Copozzi capped the seven-run frame when he hit a sharp ground ball with the bases loaded under the glove of first baseman Tanner Sinicki. Two runs scored on the error, and when rightfielder Luc Pasquale’s throw went to the backstop, Center Moriches took a three-run lead.
“I went up there thinking that I just need to put this ball in play,” Copozzi said. “I knew that I just couldn’t strike out and needed a big hit in that situation . . . Honestly, I didn’t even know that we had the lead until I got back into the dugout after the third out. Everything was just surreal at that moment.”
Brad Sakellardies and Corey Stengel started off the bottom of the sixth with singles, and after a balk, Dylan Bryant ripped a two-run single to left. After back-to-back walks loaded the bases, Liam Pulsipher drove in a run with a forceout.
Alec Maag was hit by a pitch to load the bases and David Falco hit a soft ground ball to first that was mishandled, allowing the tying run to score.
“We have always had a storied program,” Red Devils coach Dennis Donovan said. “I am proud to be a little blip on that long history. The kids are going to remember this for the rest of their lives.”
David Franchi collected the save with a scoreless seventh, ending the game with a strikeout in his final game for Center Moriches (23-4). Seton Catholic finished 18-5.
Falco went 3-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs and earned the win by pitching four innings of relief. He allowed one earned run and three hits and struck out four. Stengel went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
“We never gave up,” Stengel said. “The resilience of this team is incredible. Everybody knows that they have a job to do and we are all contributing to the same thing.”
Said Falco: “Earlier in the year, our soccer team won a state championship. Our basketball team did great and went to regionals. To keep the tradition going at Center Moriches this year and win a state championship is a great feeling . . . one of the greatest feelings I have ever had in my life.”