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East Rockaway falls in state semifinal after making it back for first time since 1981

East Rockaway's Jon Starkman (3) reacts after scoring

East Rockaway's Jon Starkman (3) reacts after scoring from third base on what would be the winning run against Pierson/Brigdgehampton in the seventh inning of the Long Island Class C baseball final on Thursday at St. Joseph's College. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The East Rockaway baseball team attempted to keep its season rolling after winning its first Southeast regional championship last Saturday. But the Rocks’ dream season ended Friday afternoon with a 6-1 loss to Ticonderoga in the state Class C semifinal at Conlon Field in Binghamton.

It was East Rockaway’s second state semifinal appearance, and first since 1981.

“I am very proud of these guys, they work year round” East Rockaway coach James Hickey said. “They have had great preparation for the upcoming games, and showed a lot of heart to win both the regional and Long Island championship.”

East Rockaway (15-8) scored its lone run in the top of the fourth. Bryan Morgenthaler’s single drove in Jon Starkman, who had reached on a fielder’s choice.

Starkman, the only senior on the team, was the go-to-guy for the younger players.

“It was fun being able to lead a group of young guys and lead by example,” Starkman said. “I had a blast playing with these guys, and it was truly a season to remember.”

Stefano Cilluffo, the winning pitcher for East Rockaway in the Long Island Class C championship, pitched a complete game Friday. He allowed six runs (five earned), four hits, three strikeouts and two walks against Ticonderoga (16-4).

Despite failing to advance and compete for a state championship, Hickey knows that this season could leave a lasting impact.

“I think it really has created an excitement for baseball not only in our program but in our town,” Hickey said. “We have a lot of guys who are going to be back and this type of season raises the bar for the future. It’s a huge step for the young kids on the roster. Even though the season ended today, the carryover effects will be felt for many years.”

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