There is some certainty in this year's Long Island baseball championships. We're going to crown some new faces. We're going to send some different schools to the state tournament.
The only possible repeat champion can come out of the Long Island Class B title game at Farmingdale State today at 11 a.m. Southampton looks to repeat in the B classification against Long Island's defending Class C champion from Oyster Bay, which moved up in class this year.
Both schools have dominant aces and a desire to return to the state semifinals, where they fell short a year ago. "It's an opportunity to address some unfinished business," said Southampton coach Jim Coady. "We have a few seniors who felt we didn't get it done last year and they're motivated to go back upstate and win."
Coady will rely on righthander Chris Pike, who has had a magical year. He has a 9-0 record with 122 strikeouts in 58 innings. Moreover, Pike has allowed only 12 hits and 10 walks, and has thrown two-no-hitters and three one-hitters for a minuscule 0.35 ERA.
What makes the Southampton-Oyster Bay title game more interesting is the Baymen lineup, led by catcher Danny Roland, that averaged 8.6 runs per game in winning the Nassau Class B crown and fashioning a 22-1 record. They've reeled off 20 straight wins led by today's starter Jake Robinson (9-1). Daunting, yes, but this is what makes the Long Island championships so much fun.
In a year that Oyster Bay coach Jay Davis picked up his 300th win in 24 seasons, the Baymen would love to punctuate that milestone year with a state title.
So they kick off a four-bagger of games at Farmingdale with quite a showdown. After that, we get the Class A game featuring Wantagh and Kings Park at 1:30 p.m. Wantagh made its way through the highly competitive Class A tournament in Nassau with an impressive sweep of Division in the finals. The Warriors, making the school's 17th straight playoff appearance, are swinging the hottest bats on Long Island.
"Getting through our conference and our playoff system is ridiculous," said Wantagh coach Keith Sachs. "There are no off days, no easy walkover type wins. A couple of bad days and you're done."
In the state playoffs it could be just one bad inning and done. The single-elimination tournament offers no respite from adversity - you either get over it quickly or you go home.
Kings Park brings the glass slipper to the dance, coming through Suffolk Class A as a sixth seed. The Kingsmen knocked off everyone, including a 3-0 upset of Islip, the three-time defending county champion. That win propelled them through the playoffs and within one win of a Long Island title.
Todd Heimer, the executive director for Section VIII, for Nassau County's interscholastic athletics, said they'll clear the stadium after the second game and start a separate admission for the Class C game featuring Mercy and Friends Academy at 4 p.m.
Mercy coach Ed Meier has tabbed cleanup hitter Tom Tenaglia to take the hill against Friends Academy's starter Sam Harrington.
Calhoun and Lindenhurst meet for the Class AA crown at 6:30 p.m. Calhoun eliminated MacArthur, a team that boasted two of Long Island's top pitchers headed to Division I colleges, to get here. And the Colts did it without their ace, Tyler Thornton, who was felled by a season-ending football injury.
Lindenhurst almost lost its ace when righthander Tom Bammann was hit by a line drive at Connetquot on April 12. But Bammann was back on the mound celebrating the Suffolk Class AA title win over Longwood for the school's first Suffolk title in 47 years. They'll all be at Farmingdale to play out the final chapter of an inspiring Long Island season.