Matt Bolton of Division reacts after crossing home on his...

Matt Bolton of Division reacts after crossing home on his home run hit during game one of the Nassau boys Class AA baseball finals against Bellmore JFK on Saturday, May 25, 2024 at Farmingdale State College.. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Sometimes youth is served. Sometimes it gets served up.

The 2024 Nassau Class AA Championship Series made for a stark contrast for Saturday’s Game 1. In the visiting dugout was Division’s Blue Dragons and an all-upperclassmen starting lineup. In the home dugout were the Bellmore JFK Cougars with seven freshmen or sophomores and a single senior among their starters. And this was the sort of big game where experience – or a lack of it – can come out.

Division’s Matt Bolton crushed a first-inning solo homer to start the team’s nine-hit attack, the Dragons applied more offensive pressure with aggressive tactics in the batter’s box and on the bases and Bellmore JFK committed five errors in a 14-8 Dragons win at Farmingdale State.

“We’re aggressive and we don’t let up,” said Bolton, a Binghamton commit who was 3-for-4 with three RBI. “And if (another) team makes mistakes, those are gifts we’re going to take.”

“We keep putting ball in play and we’re wild dogs on the bases,” said senior Cody Brush, who had a key two-run triple in a six-run rally in the sixth inning. “Teams have to play [lightly] against us or we’re going to cash in on mistakes.”

The teams meet for Game 2 on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Farmingdale State. Division (21-5) will be seeking its 17th county title (and also has three Nassau overall crowns, according to Newsday records).

This final margin suggests this was smooth sailing for the Dragons, but it was far from it. On a couple of occasions when it looked like they might put the game away, the Cougars rallied.

In the second and third innings, Division scored five runs on two hits and two JFK errors for a 6-0 lead. In the bottom of the third, the Cougars (20-4-2) got three back on a Ryan Yormack run-scoring double, a Derek Yormack sacrifice fly and a Alex Demas RBI groundout.

Division got the margin back to 8-5 but Bellmore JFK made it a one-run game scoring four times in the fifth. Frankie Stella’s sacrifice fly scored Demas to make it 8-7.

As the top of the sixth started to unfold, the Blue Angels did a pair of loud passes above the baseball stadium. However for the Blue Dragons only saw angels in the field that frame. A pair of Division sacrifice bunt got thrown away by the Cougars to open the gates on the six-run rally. Brush won a seven-pitch battle with the two-run triple for a 14-8 lead.

“We have been in a lot of high-leverage situations during this season and I trust my guys,” Dragons coach Tom Tuttle said.

“Putting balls in play is wat we preach to the players because it forces the other team to make plays,” he added. “We treat strikeouts as a virus.”

“[JFK] got here for a reason – because they win – and when it got to 8-7 we found more motivation,” Brush said. Added Bolton: “We had the confidence there to put up the six-spot.”

Bolton’s home run not only gave Division the lead for good, but it also continued what has been an extraordinary season for the senior centerfielder.

“Bolton is the best player I’ve coaching in my 16 years here,” Tuttle said. “He is a true five-tool player and he sets a tone for us.”


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months