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15th Annual Grand Slam Challenge features excellent starting pitching matchup

Max Nielsen of Ward Melville pitches during the

Max Nielsen of Ward Melville pitches during the Suffolk Class AA baseball finals on June 4, 2019. Photo Credit: Daniel De Mato

It’s a highly anticipated righty-lefty matchup in this year’s 15th annual Rawlings Grand Slam Challenge, pitting the top seniors from Nassau and Suffolk against each other. Hard-throwing Ward Melville lefthander Max Nielsen will face Chaminade righthander Logan Koester in the all-star showcase, which is slated for a 5:30 p.m. start Tuesday at Hofstra.

All proceeds will benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. The admission is $10.

Nielsen, who fanned 103 hitters in 52 innings for the Patriots, will play for UConn next season.

Koester, the Catholic League’s pitcher of the year, was drafted by the Phillies in the 32nd round. He decided to pass on the professional baseball opportunity and honor his baseball scholarship to attend George Washington.

“It’s an honor to be recognized as one of the top pitchers on Long Island,” Koester said. “The opportunity to throw the first pitch for the Nassau squad is unbelievable. I’m truly excited.”

Koester is another dominant pitcher in a long line of overpowering aces to play in this game. He finished 7-0 with a 0.44 ERA in leading the Flyers to the CHSAA title.

Long Island, traditionally a pitching-rich area, has seen double digits in strikeouts in these games for the past seven years. In 15 years of some fantastic finishes, there has never been a home run.

“There’s been so many great pitchers’ duels in these games,” said Jon Mauchan, the area scout for the Minnesota Twins and a Rawlings representative. “There’s a bunch of big bats on both sides this year. I think we’re going to see some real hitting.”

Nassau is led by Herricks catcher Matt Yip, who had six home runs and 31 RBIs. Massapequa catcher Nick Schwartz hit five homers and drove in 27 runs.

Suffolk has Center Moriches catcher Alec Maag, who led the Red Devils to the state Class B title, homering in the championship game. It also will get some pop from Shoreham-Wading River’s DJ Brown, who had five homers, and Hills West’s Aidan Tornquist, who hit three homers in one game this season.

“The hitters need to be relaxed and just go up and swing it,” said Suffolk coach Tom Migliozzi (Half Hollow Hills West). “It’s an all-star game, let’s have fun. There will be no bunting.”

RAWLINGS GRAND SLAM CHALLENGE AT HOFSTRA UNIVERSITY

TUESDAY, JUNE 18

GAME TIME 5:30 P.M.

NASSAU COUNTY SENIOR ALL-STARS

2 -- Tom Reifler, Garden City, SS

3 -- Nick Schwartz, Massapequa, C

4 -- Colin Diez, Division, OF

5 -- Peter Schimmel, Bethpage, OF

6 -- Chris Siklas, Oceanside, 1B

7 -- Theo Farynick, Cold Spring Harbor, P

8 -- Stefano Ciluffo, East Rockaway, 2B

9 -- Luke Napolitano, Kellenberg, 3B

10 -- Matt Yip, Herricks, C

11 -- Jake Edwards, Calhoun, OF

12 -- Jake Lazzaro, Oceanside, OF

13 -- Paul Orbon, Chaminade, OF

14 -- Logan Koester, Chaminade, P

15 -- Brendan Turton, Clarke, P

16 -- David Aufiero, North Shore, P

17 -- Chris Manzi, Valley Stream North, P

18 -- Charlie Cucchiara, East Meadow, P

19 -- Alex Chang, Port Washington, P

21 -- Jay Schlaefer, Manhasset, OF

22 -- Ben Kovel, Calhoun, P

23 -- Cameron Mayer, Syosset, P

24 -- Rich Gennaro, Bethpage, P

25 -- Noah Eisel, Oceanside, P

COACHING STAFF

Mike Pienkos, Chaminade

Jake Lyons, Chaminade

Shaun Manning, Long Island Lutheran

SUFFOLK COUNTY SENIOR ALL-STARS

2 -- EJ Exposito, St. John the Baptist, SS

3 -- Christian Amoruso, Smithtown West, OF

4 -- Nick LoMonaco, William Floyd, OF

5 -- Will Kennedy, Smithtown West, 1B

6 -- Jake Krzeminski, Commack, 1B

7 -- Matt Alifano, Center Moriches, 3B

8 -- Jake Barrett, St. Anthony’s, SS

9 -- Mike LaDonna, West Islip, 3B

10 -- Alec Maag, Center Moriches, C

11 -- Jose Matos, Longwood, C

12 -- Michael Draskin, Half Hollow Hills West, OF

13 -- Aidan Tornquist, Half Hollow Hills West, P

14 -- DJ Brown, Shoreham-Wading River, OF

15 -- Mike Gunning, Rocky Point, SS

16 -- Max Nielsen, Ward Melville, P

17 -- Roman Dorosh, Sachem East, P

18 -- Doug Goodwin, Smithtown East, P

19 -- Brian Primm, North Babylon, P

21 -- Jack Davis, Sayville, 2B

22 -- Joe Savino, Connetquot, P

23 -- Dave Falco, Center Moriches, P

27 -- Rob Milopsky, Rocky Point, P

COACHING STAFF

Tom Migliozzi, Half Hollow Hills West

Josh Gutes, Hauppauge

Steve Corrado, North Babylon

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