ELWOOD, New York, May 21
BY: Andrew Wroblewski
Occasionally, in the game of baseball, one team gets hot while another goes cold.
That was the case on Tuesday as the Knights of John Glenn High School welcomed the Wildcats of Shoreham-Wading River for the rubber game of a best-of-three series that decided which of the two teams would advance to the 2015 Suffolk Class A finals.
With careful pitching and timely hitting, the fifth-seeded Wildcats defeated top-seeded John Glenn, 5-1.
“They played well in this series,” Glenn’s head coach Stephen Robins said after the game. “Give them all the credit in the world… They got hot at the right time, we got cold at the wrong time.”
Brian Morrell led the Wildcats on the mound with a “stud” performance, as Robins said, that hindered a potent Knights’ offense from getting runs across the plate. Morrell was able to scatter Glenn’s hits as he surrendered just 1 run; that run came in the first inning.
The defeat ended a three-game series between the two teams, which started on Friday, May 22.
Glenn got the best of Shoreham in game one as All-County junior Tyler Arella led the Knights to a 1-0 victory with a 7-hit, 3-walk and 5-strikeout performance. John Schefer drove in the winning run for Glenn – a walk-off that scored Quinn Ronan.
The Knights, however, fell on Saturday as the two teams met at Shoreham and forced a game three.
In that game three, Matt Czeczotka was one of nine Glenn seniors to start in the field. The Knights allowed 1 run in the first inning, but responded immediately when Ryan Fisenne scored on a single by Nick Citarella in the bottom of the first.
“We had hits, but we just really couldn’t follow through with runners in scoring position this week,” Robins said.
After surrendering 3 runs in the fourth and 1 run in the fifth, Arella – who pitched on three days’ rest – came on in relief for the Knights, but the damage was ultimately already done; Glenn was unable to mount a comeback.
Shoreham (14-9) advances to a best-of-three series with no. 3 Bayport-Blue Point (20-4) starting today, Thursday, to decide the Suffolk Class A champion.
All three of those teams, Glenn included, hail from League VIII – a league which the Knights (17-6) were co-champions of this season alongside Bayport. The title is the fourth league championship in the last eight years for Glenn, Robins said.
Veteran leadership, in part, he said, is what helped the Knights have that success.
“This is probably the best chemistry I’ve ever had of any team I’ve ever coached here,” he said. “The seniors led us to a great year. We emphasized that [leadership] was one of our keys this year. We kind of lacked that a bit last year so that was one of the things we talked about.”
Along with Schefer, Ronan, Czeczotka, Fisenne and Citarella, the Knights were also led by seniors Dante Postorino, Evan Muchnicki, Matt Algerio, Mike Mannix, Marc Cacioppo, Doug Young, Nick LaBella, and Luke Citarella. That group will be sorely missed, Robins said.
Expected to return next season, though, is Arella, who Robins hopes will continue that trend of leadership for the Knights alongside juniors Mike Szokoli, Andrew Reinold, Patrick Kossmann, Luke Cacioppo, Joe Reiter, and Antonio Romano.
The Knights will continue to focus on taking that “next step,” Robins said, in hopes of claiming a Suffolk championship.
Originally published: Long Islander News: The Record
(Thursday, May 28, 2015; A26)