BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - The Knights have the throne, and they do not plan on giving it back any time soon.
Smithtown Christian delivered that message loud and clear Saturday, beating Westfield, 8-4, for the program's second straight state Class D baseball title.
"They're going to stay here," said senior shortstop and captain Vinny Ciaravino, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI. "They're going to be in this for a while. I'm very proud."
The Knights (13-10) graduated five starters, including their top two pitchers, from last year's title team. That made returning to this point a challenge. The record says this team was not as formidable as last year's, which went 15-3.
"We worked hard, and we got the trophy," senior catcher and captain Ben Damon said. "We played our best baseball down the stretch. This tells Class D that it isn't over."
Glen Middendorf, Zach DiBlanda and Carlos Pagan each went 3-for-4. Austin Sala and Jimmy Seviour each went 2-for-4.
Pagan's two-run double to the leftfield wall gave Smithtown Christian a 3-0 lead after one inning.
"That was the turning point of the game," Ciaravino said.
It also helped Sala, the starting pitcher, to settle into a groove. "After the first inning, all the nerves went away," said Sala, who struck out six and allowed one earned run and three hits in five innings for the win.
The Knights had five hits in that first inning, matching the total from their 6-4 semifinal win earlier Saturday against previously unbeaten Fort Ann. In that game, Smithtown Christian needed a three-run sixth aided by three Fort Ann errors to advance.
"I think the first game was just a little bit of nerves," coach Chris White said. "Once you win that first game, it's all or nothing. We didn't want to go home on the bus winning one but not winning the other one."
Sala and Seviour, who earned a complete-game win in the semifinals, are sophomores. DiBlanda, Pagan and Middendorf are juniors. So is Sal Ciaravino, who singled and scored the winning run in the semifinals.
That has the Knights thinking about a third straight title.
"I'm not worried," Ciaravino said. "I know next year's team is going to come right back here fired up and we're going to have the juniors to lead the team."