#8 Hunter Colagrande of Kings Park baseball team during the...

#8 Hunter Colagrande of Kings Park baseball team during the New York State Public High School baseball championships held at Union-Endicott High School in Binghamton, NY. June, 7, 2024. Credit: Jorge Marcano

It was Kings Park’s first appearance in a state semifinal in more than 20 years, and Mitchell Landau wasted no time doing his best to make this more than a one-game experience.

Landau led off the bottom of the first inning with a triple to right-centerfield on the second pitch, immediately signaling that Kings Park wasn’t  satisfied with merely getting off Long Island. Brandon Hauk followed with a single to centerfield, and Kings Park wound up earning a 7-0 victory over Pittsford Sutherland in the state Class A baseball semifinals at Union Endicott High School on Friday night.

“It got everybody fired up and we just rode it from there,” Landau said. “We kept it going and never looked back. That was the perfect start. It was just what we needed, and all we really needed was one run.”

That's because Stony Brook commit Hunter Colagrande threw another gem for the Kingsmen (23-2), tossing a five-hitter with two walks and 12 strikeouts.

“He’s been lights out since he’s come up on varsity, but every year he’s taken another step,” coach Andrew Abreu said. “People really need to know about his work ethic, and it’s not a coincidence. He’s put so much time into this thing and he’s earned every bit of his success.”

Colagrande said he felt the best he had all season on the mound on Friday, adding that getting a lead in the first inning aided his confidence.

“It was insane. We got the momentum right from the start,” he said. “Mitch has been hot all year, so for him to come out and do that, I honestly expected it. We knew it was coming from him, we didn’t know when, but it came in the very first [at-bat]. It fired us up, and then just having that lead allows me to go out there and do my thing. It makes my job easier.”

Kings Park pulled away with a four-run fourth to take a 7-0 lead. Vincenzo Buffolino highlighted the inning with a two-out, two-run single up the middle on a 3-and-2 pitch to drive in Landau and Hauk for the game’s final two runs. Chase Renna scored on a squeeze bunt by Landau for the first run of the inning and Michael Cooper stole home when Landau  stole second to give Kings Park a 5-0 lead.

 Kings Park took a 3-0 lead with two runs in the third. Landau scored on an RBI groundout by Anthony Altobelli and Hauk scored on a wild pitch.

Landau finished 3-for-4 with three runs and two stolen bases and Hauk went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs.

Pittsford Sutherland  (18-7) put runners on second and third with none out in the fourth, but Colagrande struck out the next two batters before inducing a pop-out to Landau at shortstop.

“Personally, I might be better with runners on,” Colagrande said. “I don’t know what it is exactly, but just something about it, I lock in and do my thing.”

Kings Park, trying to earn the first state title in program history, will face Maine-Endwell in the state Class A final at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Mirabito Stadium in Binghamton.

It’s a dream Colagrande and the rest of his senior class have imagined since arriving at Kings Park.

“From the day we stepped into high school, I know every guy was thinking we’re the group to do it,” Colagrande said. “We can do it. We have banners hung up and we kept looking at them every day saying, ‘That’s going to be us.’ ”

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