An ankle injury suffered during the basketball season proved costly for senior pitcher David Falco. The hard-throwing righthander lost critical innings on the mound for Center Moriches this spring and ultimately the inactivity drove away many major league baseball scouts.
The Maryland-bound commit showed no signs of rust in Saturday’s state Class B Southeast Regional at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue. Falco came on in relief of starter Matt Alifano and fired four scoreless innings as Center Moriches beat Marlboro, 7-1, to advance to the state’s Class B semifinals Friday at Broome Community College in Binghamton at 5 p.m.
Center Moriches (24-0) will meet Susquehanna Valley (19-1) in the semifinals.
The last time a Suffolk team went undefeated through an entire season was Bayport-Blue Point when the Phantoms went 27-0 in 2013 and won the state Class A title.
Falco gave the defending state champions four dominant innings where he allowed three singles, two walks and struck out six.
"Matt [Alifano] had to grind through the first three innings with some control issues,” Center Moriches coach Dennis Donovan said. “And David came on and picked it up and completely shut them down. He was brilliant.”
Alifano exited with a 2-1 lead after Marlboro scratched out an unearned run in the top of the third inning.
“We’re a selfless team that plays for each other,” Alifano said. “It’s a different guy getting it done every day. We have so much depth.”
It was Alifano that set the tone in Saturday’s game. He launched a 1-1 pitch for a two-run home run in the first inning for the 2-0 lead. The Suffolk League VII MVP added another single and a walk and scored three runs to lead the Red Devils offense.
“We get contributions up and down the lineup,” Donovan said. “It’s a senior-leaden group, 15 of them, that have the state experience and take it one game at a time. They know we need two more wins to complete this thing.”
The Red Devils strung together three consecutive singles in the third inning to extend the lead to 3-1. Alifano led off with a single and Alec Maag singled before designated hitter Brad Sakellarides drove in Alifano.
In the fourth, the Red Devils scored three more times, keyed by Maag’s sharp two-run single and another Sakellarides run-scoring base hit to make it 6-1. Sakellarides had three hits in the game.
“I’m playing with a little extra motivation,” Falco said. “We want to win another state title.”
Center Moriches added another run in the sixth and the rest was left to Falco. And the Red Devils were in good hands.