Clarke head coach Tom Abruscato is congratulated by his team on...

Clarke head coach Tom Abruscato is congratulated by his team on his 500th win during a Nassau baseball game on Wednesday, April 24, 2024 in Cold Spring Harbor. Credit: Dawn McCormick

The moment was 25 years in the making, but Tom Abruscato treated it like just another win.

With about a dozen alumni from various graduating classes in attendance, the Clarke baseball coach notched his 500th career win as the visiting Rams defeated Cold Spring Harbor, 7-1, in Nassau Conference A-II on Wednesday. The game was called after six innings due to darkness.

“To have all these guys from different years come out on the road was really nice. They’re the ones that won all these games anyway,” Abruscato said. “If it really was me that won a game, I would’ve just written the lineup and the game would’ve been over.”

Abruscato has led Clarke to six county championships, three Long Island titles and two state crowns since he became the head coach in 1999. He is joined on the staff by Brian Landini, who played on Abruscato’s first team in 1999, and Mike Meittinis, who has been an assistant coach since 2000. Abruscato now has record of 500-124.

“This didn’t happen by accident,” Meittinis said. “He’s an amazing teacher of the game. He maximizes everybody’s ability, especially with pitching from what I’ve seen over the years. It’s no mistake that this program has been so successful during his time here.”

With the milestone on the line, Nick Berasti was lights out. The senior pitcher struck out nine batters and allowed one run on three hits in six innings. Berasti allowed a two-out homer to Cold Spring Harbor (4-7-1, 2-6) centerfielder Matt Gileno in the third, but allowed just one baserunner over the final three innings.

Berasti went 1-for-3 and scored a run on a passed ball in the fourth inning, giving the Rams a 2-1 lead.

“Coach has always treated his teams like family. I’ve been here for four years, so I know how he is with his team,” Berasti said. “He makes us feel loved and he makes the game worth playing.”

After drawing a walk to lead off the game, Giancarlo Rengifo was picked off of first base. In his next plate appearance, the senior third baseman smoked a single down the third-base line to plate James Beckworth for the game’s first run. Rengifo went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and three stolen bases.

“You’re not gonna have stuff go your way all the time, so when you have those little bumps in the road, we’re coached to put it in the past and go to the next play,” Rengifo said. “We all work really hard and wake up very early in the morning to grind it out, so it’s awesome to be a part of (Abruscato’s) 500th win.”

Abruscato said that Clarke (9-2, 7-1) would enjoy a nice bus ride home before getting back to work with an 8 a.m. batting practice Thursday morning.

A smiling Rengifo said: “I am not surprised.”

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