#19 Matthew Callaghan of Kings Park during the Class A...

#19 Matthew Callaghan of Kings Park during the Class A championship game of the NYSPHSAA at Mirabito Stadium in Binghamton, NY on June, 8th of 2024. Credit: JORGE MARCANO

BINGHAMTON — Kings Park was one win away, and perhaps a few baserunners, from its first state baseball title in school history.

Trailing Section IV champion Maine-Endwell by two runs going into the top of the seventh inning, the Kingsmen loaded the bases with one out after singles by Mitchell Landau, Brandon Hauk and Vincenzo Buffolino.

Freshman Everett Zarzicki then stepped to the plate and rocketed an 0-and-2 pitch down the third-base line. Unfortunately for Kings Park, Maine-Endwell third baseman Michael Jamba was right there. Jamba smoothly fielded the grounder, stepped on third and fired to first for a game-ending double play that gave Maine-Endwell a 5-3 win in Saturday’s state Class A final at Mirabito Stadium.

“That’s their DNA,” Kings Park coach Andrew Abreu said. “They’re gonna battle until we have to get kicked off the field because it’s the final out. Was I surprised by that? No, not at all. That was a great team on the other end. They made big plays in big moments, and that third baseman made a tremendous play.

“A few inches down the line — I know this was kind of a caption a couple games ago, we caught a break in a game of inches, and today we didn’t.”

Kings Park (23-3), which was making its first state final appearance, had 11 hits and held Maine-Endwell (22-5) to four. But the Kingsmen left five runners in scoring position.

“Win or lose, we were champions,” Abreu said. “Not because of the stage or the outcome of today. This group was a championship group, day in and day out. They brought it every day. We had so much fun doing it, and at the end of the day we made history and history goes nowhere.”

Kings Park took a 1-0 lead in the first inning as Landau hit a leadoff single and eventually scored on a passed ball.

Zarzicki, who came into Saturday with a 6-1 record, 38 strikeouts and a 0.58 ERA in 46 ⅔ innings, struck out three and allowed five runs (three earned), four hits and three walks in 3 ⅓ innings.

Said Abreu: “We told [Zarzicki] after the game, ‘If we had to do this thing all over again, it would be you 100 out of 100 times.’ ”

After Maine-Endwell answered with two runs in the first to take a 2-1 lead, Kings Park tied it at 2 in the second on Michael Cooper’s RBI single. Later in the inning, Cooper (2-for-3) was ultimately thrown out at home on a wonky play. He raced home on a grounder to shortstop Jack Hennessey, who threw to the plate, and the umpire seemingly ruled him safe. But as Cooper reached back to confirm he touched the plate seconds later, he was tagged and then ruled out.

“I guess it’s a tough call for the umpire, but I just was making sure I touched the plate,” Cooper said. “But he had me safe in the beginning, so I felt like — I mean, he’s got to make the call if I touched the plate or not.”

Kings Park eventually did take a 3-2 lead in the third inning on Zarzicki’s sacrifice fly to centerfield. But Maine-Endwell scored two in the bottom half to take a 4-3 lead on Jamba’s two-out RBI single that dunked into rightfield. Hennessey’s sacrifice fly to left in the fourth gave Maine-Endwell a 5-3 lead.

“We’re just really proud of the team,” Cooper said. “We made school history this year. So tough loss, but a season to be proud of.”


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