Babylon lefthander Gino Vano had an hour-long bus ride to figure out how to attack the Center Moriches batting order.
“I just thought, ‘Throw strikes, pitch to contact and let the defense take care of business,’ ” Vano said. “Our defense is unbelievable.”
As it turned out, Vano was brilliant and his defense was flawless.
In his third game against the Suffolk League VIII champions, Vano scattered four hits, walked two and struck out eight as Babylon beat Center Moriches, 6-0, on Friday in a winners’ bracket final of the double-elimination Suffolk Class B baseball tournament.
Second-seeded Babylon (18-5) will face the top-seeded Red Devils (18-4) at noon Saturday in Center Moriches, with the winner taking the county title. The teams split their four-game series during the season.
“Gino had a perfect game going into the fifth inning in one start against Center Moriches and he finished with a no-decision,” Babylon coach Vic Manzella said. “I knew he could pitch well against them.”
Vano allowed hits to lead off two innings but was unfazed. Rob Copozzi had a leadoff triple in the second but was stranded. Alec Maag had a leadoff double in the fourth but never reached third as Vano recorded two of his eight strikeouts and a groundout.
“His fastball had life, and when he needed to spot a breaking pitch, he was able to do that,” Manzella said. “I felt the early lead allowed him to get comfortable and dictate pitch sequences. He located well deep in counts.”
Babylon opened the scoring with a two-out rally in the second inning. Mitch Carmody singled and scored on Eric Trapani’s double. Frank Vano, Gino’s brother, followed with an RBI single up the middle for a 2-0 lead.
Ian Morgan led off the third with a single, moved to second on a groundout and scored on Dan Panes’ single.
“We’re so evenly matched with Babylon,” Center Moriches coach Rob Dyer said. “They’re a scrappy team that plays defense and Vano shut us down earlier this year. We were out of our approaches at the plate and abandoned ship on our plan. He’s good and pumps the zone.”
“I couldn’t be prouder of these guys,” Manzella said. “It’s a tall task to go back out to Center Moriches again and face their ace. If we play the way we played today, everything will fall into place.”