ENDICOTT, N.Y. — The Wantagh baseball team is one win away from back-to-back state championships.
The Warriors defeated Pittsford Sutherland, 5-1, in the Class A state semifinal at Union-Endicott High School Friday night and will play Vestal Saturday at 1 p.m. at NYSEG Stadium — the home field of the Binghamton Mets — for the state championship.
“I think a big part of this is the experience we have,” Trevor Fagan said. “We’ve been here before. We’re used to this.”
Especially for Fagan. Returning as Wantagh’s catcher after last season’s state title, the senior went 3-for-4 with an RBI single in the seventh and he also scored a run.
“He’s playing his best ball of the season right now,” coach Keith Sachs said. “He’s the leader of our team. When he catches, he controls the pitching staff and when he plays well, we’re pretty tough to beat.”
Anthony Fontana, who recorded wins in the county final and Long Island championship game, allowed one run on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts in five innings for Wantagh, being removed after allowing a leadoff single in the sixth.
“I definitely did not have my stuff today,” Fontana said. “But I had confidence in my defense. I knew if I just threw strikes, they would make the plays for me.”
And he had backup in Wantagh’s do-all pitcher Brendan Haas, who recorded the final six outs, allowing only two runners to reach base and three strikeouts for the save.
“I love being able to close out theses games,” said Haas, who also had the save in the Long Island championship. “Being the last guy on the mound, doing everything I can to help out my team.”
He even contributed with his bat, ripping an RBI single into left field in the seventh inning for Wantagh’s final run in just his second at-bat of the season.
“I knew he was coming first-pitch fastball because he was seeing a kid who probably hasn’t hit all year,” Haas said. “So I just did whatever I could with it and hit it hard out there.”
Wantagh (23-5) escaped trouble in the fifth inning after Fontana allowed back-to-back walks. After a sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third, third baseman Jimmy Joyce threw out a runner breaking home on a groundball and Fontana got the final batter to fly out to centerfield to escape the jam.
“I was breathing much easier after that,” Fontana said. “But it was great. We’re always making these plays.”
The Warriors got help from a few Sutherland errors in the second inning, scoring its first run when the shortstop couldn’t field Pat Willix’s hard hit ball cleanly. Fagan, who singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch, came around to score on the play.
Wantagh’s second run came on a bunt single by Vinny DeMaio, which turned into Charlie Interrante scoring from second on a throwing error by the pitcher. Anthony D’Onofrio drove in Jake Castellano for the final run of the three-run frame with a sacrifice fly to right field.
Now the Warriors are one-win away from accomplishing something no Wantagh baseball team has before — winning back-to-back state titles.
“I can’t wait,” Fagan said. “It’s going to be awesome.”