The Bayside Yankees shrugged over the meager early season play, while coach Joe Kessler didnt pay much mind.
These are the best players from some of the best teams in the city, Kessler said of his 16-year-old summer league squad. It always takes some time for them to learn and be comfortable with each other. Once that happened, I knew this team would be one of the best in the league. It just took some patience.
The forbearance has been worthwhile.
Kesslers Yankees have put behind a first-half slumber to reel off seven straight wins, capped by a 12-4 pummeling of the Smithtown Saints Monday at Hofstra University in Uniondale, L.I. The win puts Bayside (20-6, 14-2 FABL) in a second-place tie with the Long Island Braves in the conference.
It took some time to get used to each other, said catcher Nick Derba, who was an integral part of Molloys CHSAA Class A championship last month. It took time for us to mesh. But we trust each other now.
The team is visibly loose. Joking and teasing each other throughout the game, the Yankees no longer have cliques and have united during their recent run. On the field, the cohesion is obvious: The defensive is smoother and the lineup picks each other up.
We have more confidence each other, said right-hander John Franklino, who went four strong innings for the victory. We have the best talent and we want to show it. Our goal is simple: a World Series championship.
Its been an incredible run, Kessler said. But we cant have a letdown. We need to keep it up.
Bayside, winners of nine of 10, is in good position to advance to the regional playoffs on July 18; however, the team doesnt have it easy. The Yankees start a four-day wooden bat tournament in Welland, Canada Thursday and return to play 11 league games in a six-day stretch.
The Yankees, though, are unfazed by the challenges and proved Monday they have enough firepower to back it up. Bayside blitzed the woeful Saints (14-13, 10-11) for five runs in the first and two more in the second to put the game away early.
Third baseman Rob Yodice got the team on the board with an RBI double off Smithtown starter Mike ONeill. Derba, the third batter of the inning, launched an opposite field homer to right field to put the Yankees ahead, 3-0.
Six batters and two outs later, the Yankees put the Saints in a 5-0 hole, helped by consecutive run-scoring singles from Tom Larkin and Dan Pirillo.
A pair of Smithtown errors and a sacrifice fly from Matt Acevedo led to two more runs in the second, and gave Franklino a 7-0 cushion.
For the first three innings, the Saints couldnt solve the St. Josephs by the Sea (Staten Island) ace. Franklino mixed his fastball and off-speed pitches well to retire the first nine batters, including six by strikeout, but the stocky hurler tired by the fourth inning.
Franklino, who was on an 80-pitch count, lost command and couldnt overcome errors by Yodice and Derba. He was reached for four unearned runs on two walks, two hits and a wild pitch. Keith Christensen, Brian Duffy and Ryan Ekberg each threw scoreless innings to protect the lead.
He has to pace himself, Kessler said of Franklino. He doesnt have to come out like a racehorse each inning. He needs to relax and pitch his game. But I cant complain.
Reach contributing writer Arthur V. Claps at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.
©2002 Community News Group
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