Clarke pitcher # 7 Richard Luke. Nassau High School baseball...

Clarke pitcher # 7 Richard Luke. Nassau High School baseball Class A Finals, Game 2 of the best of three series, between Wantagh and Clarke. Farmingdale State College. Farmingdale May 26, 2024 Credit: Rick Kopstein

Two fierce baseball programs. One great championship series.

The battle for the Nassau Class A title between Clarke and Wantagh had the trimmings of an epic with a pair of talent-laden, never-quit teams squaring off. And that may be what we’re looking at after Clarke evened the best-of-three series with a 7-3 win in Game 2 Sunday at Farmingdale State.

Clarke’s slugging first baseman Dylan Vikara went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer and four RBIs and Richard Luke came out of the bullpen to pitch a stunning seven innings of relief to force Game 3. It will be played at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Farmingdale State.

“We didn’t play our game on Saturday,” Vikara said of the Rams’ 4-3 Game 1 loss. “No one is stopping us the rest of the year.”

Clarke’s determination to win was clear by how it played the two halves of the first inning. The Rams (21-5) didn’t hit much until late in Game 1 before Wantagh lefty Christian Danzillo closed the win, but they came out swinging against him in Game 2 and scored two runs on three hits with Vikara’s two-run double to the wall in right centerfield the key drive. In the bottom of the frame, Clarke coach Tom Abruscato lifted starter Jaret Sarrantonio after he threw nine of his first 11 pitches for balls to put two aboard.

Enter Luke, a soft-contact specialist with a heavy curve and sinker. The first ground ball he got went for a throwing error that allowed the two inherited runners to score, but that was all Wantagh (21-4-1) would get until it came to bat in the seventh inning trailing 7-2.

“We didn’t come here today to lose,” Abruscato said. “Normally [Sarrantonio] hits spots. He didn’t have it and you have to throw strikes. Wantagh is too good. . . . Maybe not the whole seven innings, but Luke has done this sort of thing all season for us.”

“I was up during the second batter and I was ready,” Luke said. “I did what I always try to do: attack the zone with sinkers and curves and trust the guys behind me to make the plays because they always do.”

Luke got 14 outs via ground balls and one strikeout. His outfielders were lightly taxed.

“His stuff is disgusting,” Vikara said of Luke. “He’s throwing frisbees out there.”

AJ Cumbo’s RBI double in the second inning gave Clarke the lead for good and Vikara’s two-run blast to left was the big hit in a four-run fourth.

“That felt great and . . . it sent a message,” Vikara said. “We wanted to play them one more time.”


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