Written by Vinny Messana Thursday, 15 May 2014 00:00
The Mineola Mustangs have clinched a share of the Nassau County Conference A-IV championship with Clarke High School after a 7-5 victory over Island Trees on Wednesday, May 7. Mineola is guaranteed two home playoff games—a huge advantage in the double-elimination tournament.
“It means a lot for the seniors,” said Head Coach Helms Bohringer. “A lot of the seniors—four of them—have been with me for three years. At first we only had four wins, and now we have 13. It goes to show you that if you’re going to work hard, you listen, you do the right things, then good things will happen. That’s what we try to preach around here.”
The Mustangs struggled the last two seasons, but with the maturation of their upperclassmen and vast improvement across the board, they were able to become a legitimate playoff contender and will share the conference title with Clarke, who won the title 18 of the last 19 seasons.
Senior Chris Farrell came through with the go-ahead, two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning to put the Mustangs up 6-4, a lead they would ultimately cling on to.
“[Chris Farrell] has been a tremendous asset to this program,” said Bohringer. “Not only has he been a solid baseball player defensively, but offensively he has made so much improvement. For most of the season—quite honestly—he has been DH’d for, but he never complains; he just goers about and plays the game, plays solid defense. He’s made some adjustments with the extra time in the batting cage and it’s starting to pay off.”
The offense did not get much going until late in the game. The Mustangs trailed 4-2 entering the bottom of the sixth inning. They had scored on an RBI single in the bottom of the first by Nick Iadevaio and in the fifth on an infield single by Mike Conte.
Starting pitcher Ryan Kelly lasted 3 1/3 innings. Despite allowing only one run, he had struggled with his control—walking two batters, hitting one while throwing 34 of his 63 pitches for strikes. He was relieved by Kenny Faath, who threw 1 1/3 innings, while holding the Bull Dogs scoreless.
He was relieved by James Wierczyki, who threw the sixth inning and allowed only one base runner.
In the bottom of the sixth, trailing by two runs, the Mustangs put together a rally started by Iadevaio on a single, in which he took second on an error by the center fielder. He scored on an RBI single by Matt DeMalis.
Vinny Bieniek drove a single to right center to put runners on the corners with no outs. Pinch hitter Nick Brown ripped a single to tie the game up at four.
After a sacrifice bunt and a walk, which loaded the bases, Farrell connected with a line drive to right field to put the Mustang ahead for good. They added an insurance run on a fielder’s choice.
They received a brief scare when Clarke batter Anthony Saracino drove a double to left center to cut the score to 7-5 and put the tying run in scoring position, but John Lusardi came in relief to induce an infield pop-fly and a strikeout of the Joe Piscopio to end the game.