Talk about a daily double.
The Connetquot baseball team celebrated a milestone win and a berth in the Suffolk Class AA playoffs Tuesday. The Thunderbirds used a gutty relief performance from sophomore southpaw John O’Connell to preserve a 6-3 home win over Bay Shore in a Suffolk League II game.
O’Connell entered with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the sixth inning and the T-Birds clinging to a 4-3 lead. O’Connell got Bay Shore catcher Hermes Abreu to line out to shortstop to end the threat. O’Connell then pitched a scoreless seventh to help Connetquot (9-8) secure a spot in the postseason.
The victory was historical, too. It was the 602nd win in the 33-year career of Connetquot coach Bob Ambrosini, who has led the Thunderbirds to the playoffs 32 times in his storied tenure.
Ambrosini surpassed East Islip baseball and football coaching legend Sal Ciampi, who had 601 career wins on the diamond. “I’m honored to be in the same category as Sal Ciampi,” Ambrosini said. “He was a fierce competitor and I learned so much about coaching from him.”
Connetquot senior Chris Ryan scattered five hits and struck out three for the win. A trio of sophomores led the offense. Jared Yalon went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, Joe Zimmerman added a two-out, run-scoring single, and Lucas Quinlan added two doubles, including a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth for the final margin.
“We are a very young team with only one senior and he came out and led them today,” Ambrosini said. “And our guys responded well in a tough game with some clutch hits. It’s a proud day for all of Connetquot baseball.” — John Boell