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Fogarty, Fusco led Clarke to Nassau 'A' championship

Clarke's Joe Fusco makes a diving catch for

Clarke's Joe Fusco makes a diving catch for the out against Division. (April 11, 2013) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

John Fogarty and Joe Fusco were the leaders for Clarke's baseball team all season. One year after a disappointing upset loss in the Nassau Class A quarterfinals, the senior duo vowed to bring a title to Clarke.

It came to fruition Wednesday night as Clarke defeated Plainedge, 10-3, to sweep the best-of-three Nassau A finals at Farmingdale State.

It was something they waited years for.

"This senior group is special,'' Fusco said. "Since seventh grade we've taken a knee every day at practice and talked about going all the way, not just winning the county and Long Island but winning a state championship.''

The next step for Clarke is Tuesday against Bayport-Blue Point in the Long Island Championship at Farmingdale State.

Fusco pitched a complete game with seven strikeouts Wednesday and opened the scoring with a booming two-run double in the first inning.

Fogarty, who hit a home run and drove in four runs Monday in the series opener, went 2-for-4 with a double, a triple and two RBIs in the second game.

"The hard work that they've put in -- I can't tell you what these guys do on a regular basis, and then the whole team follows and buys into it,'' Clarke coach Tom Abruscato said. "You can't get a duo that's as good of kids and players as these two are.''

The Clarke bats were hot during the playoffs, and the pitching staff of Fusco, Matt Seelinger and Chris Caizza won six consecutive games after the Rams dropped the opener in the quarterfinals.

"Our pitching has been spot on all year,'' Fogarty said. "We wouldn't be here without them.''

Seelinger set the tone with a complete-game, 14-strikeout performance in the first game for his third win of the postseason. Fusco got some early run support but also held down the powerful Plainedge bats.

"We have swung the bats and put up a lot of runs, but on the flip side we really pitched very well,'' Abruscato said. "That's the key in these games. Who knows if we'll be able to put these runs up on Tuesday, but as long as we pitch and attack the zone, we'll be in the game.''

Runs might be tough to come by against Bayport-Blue Point ace Jack Piekos, but the Rams believe they can carry their momentum to the state championship.

"We're confident no matter who we play,'' Fusco said. "We feel like no matter who we play, we'll be a tough team to beat.''

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