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This Week in Giants Baseball

The Giants began the Connie Mack playoffs on Friday, July 30 at beautiful Roy Campanella field against the Levittown Dragons. The rain that had deluged the field on the previous Sunday, and which caused a Giant doubleheader rainout, nourished the grass field with majestic results five days later.

The Giants, having won the Central division in the Connie Mack League, received a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The Giants gave the ball to Pete Cappiello for the single elimination, second round of the playoffs on a beautiful and cool Friday night. It was a perfect night for a ball game and Tex Antoine couldn’t have provided a better evening. As fans poured into the stadium and surrounding hill bleacher seats to watch, Cappiello walked to the mound.

The Dragons scored first on a two base error and ground out to second. In the bottom of the frame, Will Brennan drew a walk, which was followed by two more walks to Richie Maccarone and John Scuderi, which in turn brought up Pete Cappiello to the plate. With the bases loaded, Pete scorched a drive to right center for extra bases. First base coach Paul Zimmer screamed for extra bases. Cappiello turned the corner and motored towards second base with his eyes picking up third base coach Bruce Testa. As the ball approached the wall and the opening in the fence a fan entered the opening in the fence and was smoked on the leg with the drive. Since the ball went through the opening, it was ruled a double and one of the runners who had scored was forced to go back to third base. The Giants led 2-1 while ice was in need for the leg of the fan.

The Giants went on to score six more runs in the bottom of the first on two outfield errors, a single by Zack Arthus, an infield error, a walk to Eamonn Boyd and single by Brennan. Cappiello shut down the Dragons in the second on three strikeouts. The Giants did not score until the fourth inning when Boyd led off with a single, advance to third on two ground outs and scored on Tom Montefusco’s ground ball error to the Dragon shortstop. With the lead in hand and the semi-finals facing the Giants on Sunday, Cappiello was given the night off and the ball handed off to the bullpen. The Dragons rallied in the fifth and six but the game was never threatened. Richie Maccarone was called on in a save situation to shut down the Dragons in the top of the seventh. Maccarone got the first Dragon to pop-out to Cappiello at the first base fence and then went on to strike out the next two batters to save the game. The Giants won 9-8.

The semi-final round began on Sunday, August 1 at St. John’s University. The Giants sent Haydon Taylor to the hill for game one. The Giants struck first by scoring two in the top of the first on two walks to Brennan and Maccarone. John Scuderi blistered a single to left to score Brennan. Dan Roland, who will attend St. John’s in the fall, skyed a sacrifice fly to left, which enabled Richie Maccarone to score. The L.I. Dragons (no relation to the Levittown Dragons), who had given the Giants their only loss during the LICM season, fought back scoring five runs in the second five hits including a three run homer to left. The Dragons led 5-2 after two.

Brandon Losee took the call from the bullpen and just as he had on numerous occasions, came in to finish out the game, allowing one run in the fifth on three hits. Losee’s fastball and curve kept the Dragons off balance and gave the Giants a chance to come back. In the top of the seventh, the Giants rallied behind a Richie Maccarone double and Pete Cappiello single. The Giants scored two in the seventh but came up one short and lost the first game of the semi-finals 6-5.

In a do-or-die second game, the Giants gave the ball to Pete Cappiello. With very limited room for error, the Giants had to win this game to stay alive for the two out of three series. The Giants scored first in the second on singles by Cappiello and Roland. Sammy Harrington singled in Roland and the Giants were up by one. In the top of the second, the Giants got out of the inning without a run on a great play at the dish by a stretching Dan Roland. With the bases loaded and no out a ground ball was hit to the third baseman who threw home, but wide to the first base side of the plate. Roland planted his left foot and stretched for the ball like Tony Perez of the Big Red Machine for the force out.

In the fourth inning, Tommy Montefusco moved to third on a fly ball to centerfield and hustled home on a passed ball to give the Giants their second run. Montefusco’s legs and constant hustling off the bench sparked the Giants to remember that hustling is an important part of the game, which is often a lost art.

The game moved into the sixth inning with Cappiello and the defense getting out of two Dragon rallies. In the sixth, Maccarone led off with a walk and took second on a passed ball. John “Scuds” Scuderi singled in Maccarone and was able to take second. Pete Cappiello singled sharply to left allowing Scuds to score the second run of the inning. The Giants led 4-0 going into the top of the seventh. Three more outs and the semi-finals would move to the decisive third game. The Dragons had other plans. The first two batters singled. After a force out the Dragons had runners on second and third. The next batter singled to bring in two runs. The Giants led 4-2 with one out. Coach Zimmer turned to Coach Lubrano and was heard to say, “How big were those two runs that we scored in the sixth?” With tension so thick that you could cut it with a knife, Cappiello struck out the next two batters to give the Giants the victory and to send the series to game three. The Giants saw firsthand the hard cold truth about competitive sports. It is not about the opportunities given to the individual players but how a team can pull together to win a game. As Manager Grabowski reiterated, it’s not about the names on the back of the jerseys. The game is played for the name on the front.