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Varela, Ocampo excel as Division wins 14th straight

Division defeated Plainedge, 10-0, in a Nassau baseball game Monday.

Second baseman Dan Lodato gathered the routine grounder and fired to first for the final out. The 14th win for undefeated Division was in the books, 10-0 over host Plainedge Monday in Nassau Conference A-II.

James Varela (5-0, 0.91 ERA) continued his fantastic senior season with a three-hitter, striking out 12. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Plainedge's Rich Whalen grounded a single into leftfield.

"I had no idea there was a no-hitter until my shortstop was upset about the ball getting into leftfield,'' Varela said, laughing. "It was no big deal. I just wanted another win.''

Varela retired 11 straight batters before hitting Jim Mendyk in the back with a fastball. He quickly regrouped for a strikeout to end the inning.

"He had great command and established all three of his pitches early,'' Division coach Tom Tuttle said. "He's not afraid to throw any pitch in any count, and that's what makes him so good.''

While Varela was making quick work of Plainedge's offense, the Blue Dragons were building a big lead. Ronmel Ocampo had a day he'll never forget. He went 4-for-4 with two doubles and two home runs. His three-run blast to left-center keyed a four-run first, and he added a solo shot in the seventh.

"He's a pleasant surprise from the junior varsity,'' Tuttle said. "He's come up here and completely crushed the ball. He's one of those guys that's filled some of the holes left by our guys that graduated.''

Ocampo came into the game hitting .448, one of four Division players over .400.

"We're swinging the bats well,'' Tuttle said. "We're averaging 11 runs per game and it's everyone hitting.''

Anthony Papa, who singled in a run in the first, launched a 400-foot home run to left-center in the third to make it 5-0.

"We're getting it done on the mound, with defense and hitting,'' Papa said. "And we expected this from Ronmel. We knew he'd contribute.''

Plainedge (10-4, 9-4) flashed some leather in the fourth. Centerfielder Ryan McGrane made a spectacular diving catch to rob Tyler Crafa of a hit. Mendyk charged a slow roller by Joe Piscitelli and made a perfect throw to catch the speedy leadoff man.

"They're a great team,'' Plainedge coach Colin Fratik said. "Varela had us guessing and off balance all game.''

Division put the game away in the fifth, when Mike Ambrosio drilled a three-run home run to the opposite field to key a four-run inning for a 9-0 lead.

The Division defense also was sharp, turning a couple of neat double plays with Crafa at shortstop and Lodato at second.

"They are one of the best middle infields around,'' Varela said. "They make my job easy.''


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