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Farmingdale PAL Takes NJBL 16U Crown

After completing the NJBL 16U American Summer Season in first place with a record of 17-5, the Farmingdale PAL 16U Phantoms headed to the playoffs as the top seed. On Aug. 7, the Phantoms took on the N.Y. Wolfpack at the newly renovated Howitt Middle School field. The Wolfpack had taken the regular season series (2-1) and would be a difficult opponent for Farmingdale.

The Phantoms opened the scoring in the bottom of the first with Anthony Bellacosa and Scott Hilbrandt working their way on base with walks and Mike Catanzaro banged an RBI single. The Wolfpack answered back with two unearned runs in the top of the second and held the lead until Bellacosa opened the bottom of the third inning getting on base and stealing second and third. Hilbrandt brought him home with a booming sacrifice fly to tie the game. The score stayed knotted at two until pitcher Bryan Kaufman led off the bottom of the fifth with a walk and would score the go ahead run on a bases loaded walk to Anthony Pantano.

The Phantoms added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth with RBI singles from Thomas Celenza and Bellacosa. Kaufman shut down the hard hitting Wolfpack the rest of the way, not allowing a base runner past first base in the final five frames as Farmingdale took the semifinal, 5-2.

On Aug. 11, the Phantoms took on the Long Island Pirates in a best of three championship series at Howitt. Farmingdale came out blasting, led by Pantano’s four hit, four RBI performance and Celenza and Dylan Loria added RBI hits as Farmingdale cruised to an 11-1 victory. Catanzaro hurled seven innings, striking out seven, without allowing an earned run, leading the Phantoms to take the series.

On Aug. 12, the Pirates came out strong getting two quick runs in the top of the first, despite a strong effort by starting pitcher Nick Albarracin. Albarracin shut down the Pirates for the next six innings allowing the Phantoms to fight back. Sean Timmons led the charge starting his three-for-three day with a single in the third, scoring the Phantoms first run and Team Captain Jimmy Cavanagh scored in the fifth inning on a Pantano single to tie the game but the Pirates scratched across a run in the eighth to take game two, 3-2 to tie the series.

In final game, the Phantoms would not be denied coming out strong in their opening at bat. Bellacosa started things off with a single. Hilbrandt was hit by a pitch. Anthony Speelman ripped a liner to right that was just nabbed by the Pirate outfielder but moved both runners in scoring position. Catanzaro knocked in the first run with a hard ground out and Albarracin banged out a double to score the second run. The Phantoms added to their lead in the third, as Bellacosa singled, Hilbrandt laid down a sacrifice bunt to move up Bellacosa. Speelman brought Bellacosa home with a single, then stole second. Catanzaro followed with a run scoring single making it 4-0. The Pirates scored their only run in the fourth, but the Phantoms answered with a five-run fourth inning. Timmons and Cavanagh started the inning with back-to-back singles. Hilbrandt, Speelman, and Catanzaro followed with RBI singles putting Farmingdale on top with a comfortable 9-1 lead. Kaufman continued to shut the Pirates down only allowing one baserunner in the final three innings. Any batted balls were run down outfielders Timmons, Bellacosa, and Cavanagh and gold-glove first baseman Dylan Loria scooped up any ball that came near him thwarting potential Pirate rallies. The Phantoms held on to take the series and the championship.