The Yankees are coming

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Minutes after losing a 7-4 heartbreaker to the Long Island Titans Saturday in the Northeast Regional under-16 championships at Kings Park High School, the Yankees had...

By Mitch Abramson

The future looked pretty bleak for the Bayside Yankees Junior National baseball team.

Minutes after losing a 7-4 heartbreaker to the Long Island Titans Saturday in the Northeast Regional under-16 championships at Kings Park High School, the Yankees had to turn around and play the Titans again in a winner-take-all contest to determine who would advance to Thursday’s National Amateur Baseball Federation (NABF) Word Series. There was precious little time to put the loss behind them and prepare for the next game.

But hey, no point in crying over spilled milk.

Exhibiting the short-term memory of a cornerback just burned for a touchdown in football, Bayside scored three runs on two homers in the first inning and shocked the hard-hitting Titans 6-2 to reach the World Series in Northville, Mich.

Joe Silvestri, a senior at Archbishop Molloy whom the Yankees picked up from the Midville Dodgers before the start of the tournament, cracked a hanging fastball over the right centerfield wall with Nick Delzio aboard to take a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Vinny Sabatini, a junior at Carmel High, batted next and sent an inside fastball over the fence in center to put the Yankees up 3-0. Sabatini almost homered again when a shot he launched in the sixth inning struck the top of the fence and fell inside the park. The double scored Silvestri to make it 6-2.

With the foul taste of the first game still in the air the Yankees, with those two blasts in the first, pocketed the momentum and gave starting pitcher Paul Blejec the run support he needed.

“This team never gave up,” said Blejec, who gave up six hits and struck out four batters before giving way to John Livanos in the seventh. “The whole year we’ve been making comebacks. We lost the first seven games of the season and then we won our next 10. Then we lost five and won eight straight. We just kept improving and kept battling throughout the season to get to this point.”

The Yankees had every reason to be down before the second game. Yankee pitcher Sandy Sussman, another Midville Dodger, seemed on his way to picking up a victory in game one, when, up 3-2, he ran into trouble in the seventh inning. Sussman gave up a double to Alex Catania down the first base line then made a throwing error trying to get a runner out at third. The miscue allowed Catania to score to tie the game at 3-3.

One batter later, Alex Ferrera singled in Brian Shannon to take a 4-3 lead, prompting first-year manager Chris Duffy to yank Sussman and replace him with Michael Hinchy, who learned how to pitch under Titans coach, Keith Fasciana when he was nine.

“I was still throwing strong in the seventh,” Sussman said. “He [Manager Chris Duffy] asked me before the inning if I could go, and I told him, ‘yeah.’ But after I gave up the run, that was it, and he took me out. I could have kept going, but that’s how it goes. I thought we were going to come back because we’ve come back a lot in the last couple of games.”

Sabatini tied the game with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh, but the Yankees (27-13) fell apart in the eighth as Hinchy imploded, hitting a batter, throwing a wild pitch and giving up three runs on towering shots.

The loss was the first of the double-elimination tournament for the Yankees, which had a three-game winning streak snapped. Last year Bayside lost to the Yankee’s Junior Americans the Suffolk County regional final. The Titans (25-11), 4-3 losers to the Team New York Cardinals earlier in the tournament, had to travel through the losers bracket to get to the semifinal and clearly had the momentum heading into game two.

Bayside assistant coach Vinny Garelick quickly held a team meeting to pump up the players in between games. The Yankees responded with the first inning fireworks display.

“The first game got away from us. The second game we didn’t throw the ball around as much, and we played harder,” said Silvestri, a second Team All-City selection at Molloy. “We knew we had to go out and win. Coming out strong in the first inning quieted them down.”

The Yankees Junior Americans, considered the superior of the two teams from Bayside, won its regional tournament in Clifton Park, NY and could meet the Jr. National team in either the semifinals or finals in Michigan.

Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by E-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 130.

Updated 7:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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