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State Class A baseball semifinal preview: Division

Division's Sean Abbate delivers a pitch in his

Division's Sean Abbate delivers a pitch in his team's win during Game 1 of the Nassau Class A finals. (May 30, 2011) Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Division (21-7) vs. Pittsford Sutherland (23-2)

Saturday: 10 a.m. at NYSEG Stadium in Binghamton

The winner advances to the final Saturday at 4 p.m. and the plays the winner of Saugerties-Burnt Hills

Division was the No. 7 seed in the Nassau Class A county tournament. The Blue Dragons had the same record in conference play as South Side, but dropped two of three in the regular season to the Cyclones to get the lower seed. Division defeated No. 2 Clarke in the first round and swept South Side in the best-of-three quarterfinals. Then the Blue Dragons had the daunting task of facing undefeated Plainedge in the semifinals and swept them in the best-of-three. The Blue Dragons defeated Island Trees in Game 1 of the Class A finals, lost Game 2, and won Game 3, 6-2 for their 12th county championship. Then they beat Shoreham-Wading River, 7-1, in the Long Island Championship.

Pitching is a strength for the Blue Dragons and one of the main reasons for the postseason run. In eight of the nine postseason games, Division has allowed two runs or less. Ace Sean Abbate has been excellent. He allowed a leadoff homer against SWR and that was it. He allowed five hits, one walk, and struck out six. Abbate has five wins in the playoffs. Mike Roestenberg and Kyle Jordan give Division good depth to win two games in one day. John Cruz is a tough out as the leadoff hitter and a tremendous defensive centerfielder. He made as good a catch as you will see against SWR to stymie a rally. Matt Santorufo, J.J. Kissane, Lenny Martinez, Johnny Muller and Thomas Wiebke are also some key offensive contributors.

Sutherland, the defending state champs, defeated Hamburg, 6-0, to reach the state semifinals. This is the third trip in four years to the state semifinals (Sutherland also won six Section V titles in seven seasons). Senior pitcher Michael Gibbs threw a five-hitter in the win with three strikeouts and no walks. Gibbs isn’t overpowering. He pitched three innings as a junior, but has seven wins this season. Zach Silvia is one to watch on offense. He has 39 RBIs.

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