Bay Shore righty Brian Weissert put the finishing touch on a masterpiece. Nine Suffolk pitchers shut out the Nassau senior all-stars, 1-0, before a crowd of 600 Tuesday night at the 12th annual Rawlings Grand Slam Challenge at Farmingdale State College.
Weissert came on in the bottom of the ninth inning and struck out the side with a nasty blend of off-speed pitches and an explosive fastball. The performance earned him the Rawlings pitcher of the game award.
Suffolk retired 20 of the final 23 batters.
It was a special night for Bayport-Blue Point’s Dylan Rooney, who played in memory of his mother, Lisa, who passed away in late January after a long battle with cancer.
“They dedicated the season to my wife at Bayport, and being surrounded by his friends and the community really lifted him,” his father, Shawn Rooney, said. “She’s definitely smiling down on him. This was the perfect way to end his high school career.”
Rooney earned the game’s MVP award with the defensive play of the game and the lone RBI. With two outs and Oceanside’s Nick Vlahakis on second, Holy Trinity’s Sean Hogan drilled a line drive between first and second base that appeared destined for an RBI single. Rooney took one step to his left and dove to knock down Hogan’s liner. He got up quickly and threw him out at first to end the fifth inning and keep the game scoreless.
“I had a great read on it and I knew we were throwing a curveball to a lefty,” Rooney said. “He was right on it, barreled it up, and I was able to get my glove on it.”
Rooney would shine again in Suffolk’s sixth. Mount Sinai’s speedy James Sarno drew a one-out walk and moved to second when Kevin Dolan of St. John the Baptist walked. Sarno advanced to third after East Meadow’s Joe Minucci wheeled and tried to pick him off second base.
“I had a big lead and I just took off for third base,” Sarno said. “And I got in just ahead of the tag.”
The play proved pivotal, as Rooney lifted a 2-and-2 pitch to centerfield for a sacrifice fly and a 1-0 lead.
“It was a curveball and I sat back on it and hit it well,” Rooney said, smiling. “My mom was my biggest fan, she’s loving this.”
It would be the only run on a night that belonged to Rooney and Suffolk’s pitching staff.
“We saw some incredibly good defense, and the pitching dominated,” Suffolk coach John DeMartini, of Northport, said. “We had one scoring opportunity and made the most of it. This could have gone 14 innings. It was great baseball and we were having a ball.”
Suffolk struck out 15 batters, including three in a row in a fantastic fourth by Sayville’s Sal Zafonte. Northport’s Nick Palmerini pitched the fifth for the win. East Islip’s Anthony Visconte retired the side in order, including two strikeouts, in the seventh.
After the game, Catcher Metrx honored Chaminade’s Straton Podaras, who was named Nassau MVP, and Rocky Point’s Kyle Strovink as Long Island’s catchers of the year.