Bayside Yankees fall to L.I. Tigers

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In Monday night’s big game against the Long Island Tigers, it was the little things that did in the Bayside Yankees Junior Americans. Little things like lead-off walks and errors proved to be the difference as the Tigers topped the Yankees, 10-6, at Mount St. Michael in the Bronx.

“You give a team four or five outs and the good teams are going to score,” said Yankees head coach Joe Kessler. “We opened the door for them and they made all the big plays. When a Bayside Yankees team scores six runs, you have to win the game.”

The loss drops the Yankees to 30-9 overall and 17-5 in the Federation Amateur Baseball League, but more importantly all but locks up the division crown for the Tigers, who won four of the five head-to-head match-ups with the Yankees this year.

Instead of heading to Canada for the National Amateur Baseball Federation Regional, Bayside appears likely to stay in the New York City area to play in the Suffolk County Regional.

“We’re going to begin at the same starting point to get to the World Series [as the Tigers],” Kessler said. “It’s kind of a letdown for the kids because they love to travel but it may be a blessing in disguise because we’ll know several of the teams.”

Long Island (29-8, 20-3 FABL) jumped ahead in the bottom of the first inning as Marc Gold, who reached on a Bernie Estevez error at shortstop to lead off the inning, scored on Sean O’Brien’s sacrifice fly to center field.

Bayside roared back to take a 2-1 lead in the top of the second on an RBI-single to left-center field by St. Francis Prep senior Jason Leberfeld and a double in the gap by Kevin O’Neill, a senior at Holy Cross. With runners at second and third with one out, the Yankees threatened to tack on more runs, but Tigers hurler Ed Schrouder got out of trouble by fanning Estevez and getting Joseph Graziano to fly out to center.

Bayside’s lead was short lived as Yankees starter Pat Fletcher walked Schrouder on five pitches to open the inning. After Darrin Mastroianni grounded out to short, Fletcher hit Jay Natal to put runners at first and second with the top of the lineup staring him in the face.

Gold tied the game with an RBI-single to right field. After Brian Rath reached on a walk, Chris Vasami drilled a two-run double to left to give the Tigers a 4-2 lead. O’Brien knocked in his second RBI of the game with his second straight sacrifice fly and Anthony Vita reached on the Yankees’ second error of the game. Josh Charry’s single to left scored Vasami and two batters later Mastroianni was up again and sliced a two-run double down the left-field line.

When the smoke cleared 12 Tigers batted and eight runs were scored on five hits as Long Island took a commanding 9-2 lead.

After Bayside added one run in the third inning, the Yankees tacked on three more runs in the top of the fifth, including a two-run home run by Graziano to left-center, to cut the Tigers’ lead to 10-6. Mike Baxter followed with a walk and it appeared the rally was on, but cleanup hitter Bryan Cipolla grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.

“I started to breathe again after that double play,” said Long Island Tigers head coach Ray Babinsky. “They hit the ball as hard as we did today, but we just took advantage of their miscues and all year long we haven’t made errors.”

Bayside wraps up the regular season this week with games against Baseball Academy, the Putnam White Sox, the Long Island Cardinals, the Long Island Red Sox and the New York Giants. The NABF regional will begin Thursday, July 19, at 10 a.m. in Kings Park, Long Island.

Bayside Yankees go 3-3 in Select Six Tournament: In the first game of the tournament on the 4th of July the Yankees defeated the Connecticut Bombers, 9-5. Fletcher went 3-for-4 with four runs scored and one RBI, Baxter went 2-for-4 with one RBI and Cipolla was 2-for-4 with two RBIs while Mark Foris picked up the win, pitching three innings of relief to improve to 5-1 while Ryan Rowe picked up his second save.

After managing just four hits in a 6-1 loss to the New England Lightning, the Yankees came back to defeat the New Hampshire Big Blue, 5-3. Tim Qually improved to 4-1, striking out four while allowing six hits in six innings and Matt Fealey earned his third save pitching a scoreless seventh inning.

Vernaci, Graziano and Leberfeld had two hits apiece.

In the fourth game Bernie Estevez led the way, going 3-for-3 with three runs scored as the Yankees opened up a 7-2 lead through three innings over East Cobb (Georgia), the top ranked 16-year-old team in the nation. But East Cobb roared back to score two runs in the fourth, three runs in the fifth and won the game with two runs in the seventh on three singles off reliever Rowe as the Yankees fell, 9-7.

Rich Moran tossed 5.2 innings of one hit ball as Bayside won its fifth game, 4-2 over the Massachusetts Sea Dogs. Fealey earned the save — his third — striking out the side in the seventh inning. O’Neill and Manfredo broke a 2-2 tie with an RBI double and single, respectively, in the bottom of the sixth inning.

In the final game of the tournament, the Yankees fell to the Connecticut Bombers, 4-0 as Bayside had just three hits. Vernaci (2-2) took the loss, allowing six hits while striking out five in seven innings.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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