Thursday was a chance for Jerry DeMeo to say thank you.
Before the game, DeMeo told his grandfather, Angelo DeMeo, he'd be pitching with a purpose: to make him proud. Angelo is a World War II veteran who served in Germany and always attends "Troops Day" at Sayville High School.
"The entire game was dedicated toward him today," DeMeo said. "I wanted to make sure I pitched really good for him."
He certainly delivered.
DeMeo allowed two runs and four hits in six innings, striking out four, as Sayville won its sixth straight, beating Islip, 9-2, in Suffolk League VI baseball.
The fifth annual "Troops Day" raised money for the Wounded Warrior Project. Before the game, 11 current, retired and future military members -- including Angelo DeMeo -- were honored on the third-base line in a pregame ceremony. DeMeo walked his grandfather out onto the field. Staff Sergeant Eric Martinez, an active military member and current recruiting officer in Patchogue, threw out the first pitch.
Sayville coach Ryan Cox, who organized the event, left his impact on the game. He's also the JV football coach, and it shows. Instead of using traditional baseball signs when his team is at bat, Cox pulls a play sheet with a number system out of his left back pocket. He'll yell "33," "122," "520," for example, and his players will look at their arms like a quarterback looking up a play.
Cox said it's "almost like running a spread offense in baseball," and he was busy in the third inning.
After Islip (3-12) took a 1-0 lead, Sayville (10-5) scored four runs in the third. Anthony Sirianni led off with a double to rightfield, eight additional Golden Flashes came to the plate, and by the time the inning was over, Sayville led 4-1.
Richie Ward and Bobby Sputh each scored three runs for Sayville, which scored 36 runs in the three-game sweep. "When we were 4-5, we told the guys we were going to start a new season,'' Cox said, "and right now, our new season is 6-0."
Ward was called on to close the game. He entered in the seventh with the bases loaded and none out and got a strikeout and a double-play grounder to seal the win.
Cox has dedicated one game a year for the past five seasons to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. His father, John Cox, is a Vietnam veteran and Cox's inspiration for creating the event.
"What better way to pay tribute to [the military] than to have a venue like this that we created and recognize them?" Cox said. "It's really turned into a big community event."