BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — The perfect season!
Center Moriches capped a spectacular undefeated baseball season with an 11-1 win over Schuylerville in the state Class B final Saturday afternoon before 1,400 fans at Binghamton University. The two-time state champions started the rout when senior catcher Alec Maag ripped a three-run home run in the first inning. The Red Devils never let the Horses back in the game.
Center Moriches became the fifth team in Long Island history, regardless of classification, to win every game in a season and only the third to win back-to-back state championships since 1983.
The Red Devils set the tone early by scoring three times in each of the first and third innings. The win established Center Moriches as one of Long Island’s all-time greatest teams. The Red Devils went 26-0 and have won 41 games in a row, tied for the second-longest streak in Long Island history.
“The goal was always to win another state championship,” Maag said. “And to win every game this season was absolutely incredible. And this win, so dominant, was a great way to close our careers.”
The last time a Suffolk team went undefeated through an entire season was 2013, when Bayport-Blue Point went 27-0 and won the state Class A title. The Phantoms won two state Class A titles in 2013-14. Smithtown Christian captured the state Class D crown in 2014-15.
Center Moriches starter Matt Alifano earned his ninth win. He no-hit the Horses through the first three innings before being touched for two hits and an unearned run in the fourth. He gave way to senior Nate Sigersen and sophomore Jordan Falco, who each threw an inning of scoreless relief.
“The goal was to focus on the game at hand because we set the bar very high to win the state championship again,” coach Dennis Donovan said. “And we reiterated that over and over. It’s too easy to look ahead. But give credit to this senior class, they really became leaders and wanted an undefeated season more than anything. I knew this was a special group and today is a bittersweet day for me. It’s crazy, but if we finished with anything less than a state title, it would have been a disappointment.”
That outcome was never in question after the first inning. The Red Devils established the momentum early, scoring six times in the first three innings. The offense was relentless, ultimately pounding Schuylerville (18-8) and its three pitchers for 13 hits.
The Red Devils hit lefty starter Alex Vallee very hard in the first inning. Leadoff man Corey Stengel lined a single to left and Alifano lined a single to right to set the stage for Maag, who dropped the hammer on Vallee on the first pitch. Maag sent an up-and-away fastball well over the centerfield fence, about 410 feet from the plate. The three-run jack ignited the huge Red Devils fans, who traveled seven hours for the championship experience.
“The pitch was right where I like it,” said Maag, who went 2-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored. “And it was our goal as the visitor hitting first that we get the early lead and take the pressure off us.”
The Red Devils scored three more runs in the third. Maag led off with a line-drive double to rightfield and Brad Sakellarides doubled to center to make it 4-0. Rob Copozzi lifted a long fly ball to rightfield that was caught at the wall for a sacrifice fly and Leyton Pulsipher doubled home a run to make it 6-0.
“We pounded the ball today,” Sakellarides said. “The whole lineup got into it. Some guys were playing through nagging injuries and pushed through. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Every starter for the Red Devils reached base, including eight by hits. Donovan managed to clear the bench and share the experience with all the senior players.
“We have 15 seniors who play for each other and without regard of statistics and awards,” Donovan said. “That’s what made them so special and it’s why we’re the two-time state champions.”