Clarke jump-started the new baseball season with a very powerful battery. The Rams went with righthander Brendan Turton on the mound and Chris Giardino behind the plate. Together, they had the strength to fire-up a Mack truck and the endurance to last through a battle of powerhouses.
Turton gave Clarke six innings of one-run pitching and Giardino had two hits, an RBI and threw out two baserunners as the Rams downed host Farmingdale 5-1 in a non-league baseball game between teams expected to contend in their respective Nassau conferences.
“It’s a great matchup for us, challenging ourselves early,” Turton said. “It’s a win we can really feel good about.”
Turton and Farmingdale righthander Justin Rosner were staging a pitcher’s duel in the early going. Rosner faced eight batters to get eight outs before Clarke (1-0) got on the board in the third when Derek Smith reached on an error, stole second and scored on CJ Cumbo’s single through the left side. Turton fanned five through three innings but his error attempting to pick off Phil Krpata in the bottom of the third contributed to Farmingdale (0-1-1) tying it.
Things changed in the fourth as the Rams pushed two across. Giardino ripped a double to right to score Tyler Cox from first. He took third on the throw to the plate and scored on Nick Campagnuolo single through the box.
The lead in hand, Turton and Giardino stood out. The senior ace was ahead of almost every Farmingdale hitter the rest of the way and the junior backstop threw out two of the three Dalers to reach base in Turton’s last three innings. Clarke added a pair of insurance runs in the sixth with Steven Lee and Campagnuolo driving them in.
“[Turton] really attacked the zone. And Chris? I can’t say enough about him,” Tom Abruscato said. “He’s been our catcher since we brought him up in the eighth grade and he might now be the best we ever had.”
Turton changed his delivery for this season to be over-the-top instead of three-quarters. The goal, he explained, was a curveball “with more of a tumbling action.” He succeeded. He had Dalers missing it or watching it en route to nine strikeouts.
Clarke has won four Nassau Class A titles since 2003, but none since 2013. It has a formidable look this season with Turton and No. 2 starter Chris Lydon back among a bunch of veteran players.
“It’s been a little while but we’re looking to catch one,” Giardino said. “The juniors and seniors on this team have been looking to this season since we were in middle school . . . There’s a lot of talent here.”