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Bombers Battle Against The Best

9U team takes strides thanks to improved pitching and defense

The Garden City Bombers 9U Team has been battling through its season competing against teams throughout Nassau and Queens.

The summer season started with the Bombers playing in the Oyster Baseball tournament, with the Bombers being eliminated in a fiercely-played game against the home team Blue Collar Bull Dogs. In that game, Garden City hurler Luke Sibblies retired nine consecutive outs, and hit two home runs including a grand slam.  Matthew Mohen hit a double in every game of the tournament, with a flood of base hits by Evan Baschnagel and Johnny Kwiatkowski. Garden City led going into the last inning, but Sibblies had to leave the game having reached his pitching limit, and the Bull Dogs overcame the maroon in their final at bat. Sibblies nonetheless was the tournament star, having hit four home runs.

During Fourth of July week, Garden City provided its own fireworks, notching four straight wins versus the Plainview Hawks, Franklin Square Tigers, Mineola Hurricanes, and Massapequa Park’s South Shore Chiefs. Dave Debusschere had an impressive 3-inning outing against Plainview, and on Independence Day, Sibblies and Kensil Flores pitched a combined shutout of Mineola at Community Park. Another reason the team surrendered so few runs that week was defensive standout Joey Abbate, who has alternated between shortstop and second base, and rookie backup catcher TK Krieg.

“Our pitching has started to gel since the beginning of July,”said Bomber Assistant Coach Chris Zucchi. “We have multiple pitchers than can throw in the 50+ mph range, and many developing pitchers just shy of that. Matt and Luke throw gas, and Kensil has finesse. Dave Debusschere is so effective on the mound, in part, because he fields his position so well. Our two lefties, John Kwiatkowski and Justin Bailey have also been getting consistent outs.”

“Another reason the pitching has gotten better is that starting catcher Jeremy Martinez has taken more charge behind the plate. He calls more pitches himself and he has been directing the defense.”

Last week Garden City had a tough loss against the Astoria Storm. Matt Mohen pitched four strong innings, striking out nine and surrendering only two unearned runs, followed by Luke Sibblies who was masterful. However, Astoria came back and won in the last inning, which was a tough loss for Garden City in an otherwise great game.

Gabe Elmokian and Evan Baschnagel have been defensive jacks of all trades. Both also being high average hitters, they both play all the right handed positions competently in the infield and outfield, giving Garden City’s coaches more leverage, as does Sam Betit.

“Our offense is better, but we need to score more runs,” commented Coach Joe Mohen.  “Sibblies is our best producer of runs, both scored and batted in. McKy ‘Micky’ Walker also hits for power, but we need to develop him to be more consistent.”

Major defensive contributions have also improved the team’s level of play, allowing the Bombers to play competitively against some of the better teams in the metro area, such as the Brooklyn Bonnies, Astoria, Ozone Howard, and the Suffolk County powerhouse Long Island Falcons; the Falcons were leading 4-1 in a rain-suspended game last Saturday night, but the game was gratifying to a Garden City team that could not compete with such a team last year.