05/31/11 10:10pm
05/31/2011 10:10 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Pat Stepnoski issued eight walks, but he also supplied four hits as Bishop McGann-Mercy wrapped up its second straight county championship.

After toiling hard to win a vital baseball game on a hot, sunny day, there’s nothing better than jumping into a bath or show to cool off.

The Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs did exactly that, although it was not necessarily the conventional way.

After securing the Suffolk County Class C championship for the second consecutive year, the entire team took a plunge into the pond beyond the left-field fence to celebrate after registering an 8-3 win over the Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers in Riverhead on Tuesday.

“It’s disgusting. It smells terrible, but it’s something that makes us unique,” catcher Rocco Pascale said. “Not many schools have a pond in left field.”

The Monarchs followed tradition, which started before Coach Ed Meier’s teams won county championships in 2007 and 2010. Last year they clinched the crown on the road, so they had to wait a day before their wet celebration.

“Some came back, some went to their senior prom. They didn’t go and jump in,” Pascale said. “Some of the youngsters did. This is unifying. Everybody went in. I didn’t want to go in. I didn’t go in last year. They legitimately grabbed me and threw me in the water.”

Pascale smacked a two-run home run to key a five-run first inning that gave junior right-hander Pat Stepnoski some breathing room. Stepnoski struck out eight batters and limited Pierson/Bridgehampton (12-9) to two hits and one run over five and one-third innings before J. T. De Scalo closed out the game with four strikeouts.

McGann-Mercy (16-4) will play the Friends Academy Quakers for the Long Island championship at Farmingdale State College at 4:30 p.m. Sunday in a rematch of last year’s game.

Meier remembered that encounter — a 7-2 loss. He said Friends hit a grand slam and the Monarchs hit into four double plays.

“We were neck and neck with them,” he said. “They made the big plays and we didn’t. That’s tough to overcome in one game and that’s all it is — one game.”

Added Pascale: “I want to win the next one. I haven’t won that one. We didn’t play our best. They just did.”

So getting another opportunity at Friend was retribution, right?

“More than retribution,” Meier said. “It was the experience our guys had being there. It’s a nice venue. It’s a stadium. There’s a lot of people. It’s a big game. We can take that into it. So will they. That experience is better than the retribution, if it would occur.”

Tuesday’s game was almost over before it began. Shortstop Keith Schroeher hit a one-out double, which was followed by Pascale’s seventh homer of the season, a towering drive to right. D. J. Willmott and Owen Gilpin added run-scoring singles and an error helped another run score. The Monarchs added two more runs in the second inning.

“It ignited a little rally,” Pascale said of his blast. “It got everybody up. Putting something on the board right away, it gets everybody up. It puts the other team down as well. If you can knock them down real quick and put yourself up real quick, it almost sets the pace for everything.”

That was not lost on Meier.

“You can’t ask for a better start to put up a crooked number in the first inning,” he said. “That really relaxes our pitcher. He doesn’t have to be as perfect. You saw that he was struggling with control today a little bit. But when he was in the zone, he was tough to hit. Hot day. He battled for us.”

Stepnoski pitched in and out of trouble, thanks to eight walks, leaving the bases loaded in the third and fifth innings.

Pascale said Stepnoski was the most valuable player of the tournament, which included a win over the Port Jefferson Royals.

“He’s got this thing that he wants to overpower everybody,” he said. “Sometimes it could be a little frustrating because it’s hot. I always know good things are going to happen when he’s on the mound.”

These are exciting times for the Meier family. He said that he and his wife, Nicole, were expecting a child and were due “any moment now.”

“She was having contractions today actually,” he said.

The couple did not know the sex of the child, so they will be surprised whenever the delivery occurs.

Meier certainly wouldn’t mind the Monarchs delivering a surprise or two with a win on the field on Sunday as well.

05/31/11 7:06pm

A Wading River man was arrested Tuesday for robbing three banks in Western Suffolk, police said.

Gabriel Rodriguez, 32, robbed a Teachers Federal Credit Union bank in Smithtown on May 24, a TD bank in Commack on May 25, and a TD bank in West Babylon on May 27, Suffolk Police said.

Mr. Rodriguez was arrested at East John Street, in Lindenhurst at approximately 1 p.m. today, police said.

A resident of 299 Great Rock Drive in Wading River Mr. Rodriguez, was charged with three counts of third-degree robbery, police said. He is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday at First District Court in Central Islip.

05/31/11 5:03pm


The family might be a clan of Yankees fans, but it was the New York Mets who gave Fred and Wendy Mildner their greatest birthday present this year.

While they were attending Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field on Military Appreciation Day, their son, who is deployed in Afghanistan, had a special message for his family.

U.S. Army Specialist Jay Mildner wished his parents a happy birthday, as he and his fellow soldiers were displayed on Citi Field’s big screens, as both parents are celebrating this week.
He also gave a shout out to his fiancée, Sara, his sister Stephanie and her boyfriend, PJ.

“I heard from a few good childhood friends of mine after my appearance that it turns out my longtime friend Ryan was in attendance that night and was also taken by surprise and was very excited to see me,” Specialist Mildner wrote in a Facebook message from Afghanistan. “It worked out great. I am glad the Army gave me this opportunity.”

U.S. Army Specialist Tim Curry, also of Riverhead, got a chance to say hi to his family members as well.
Both men are with the 126 Infantry.

The U.S. Army gave the tickets to Specialist Mildner’s family members, he said.

Scroll to 1:05 to see Specialist Curry and to 1:22 to see Specialist Jay Mildner.
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05/31/11 4:00pm

JOSEPH TUMMINELLO PHOTO | A Riverhead Police boat scans the Sound shoreline in Northville Friday. The sailboat, named Jagular, can be seen in the background being towed.

Authorities are still investigating the death of a 63-year-old Connecticut boater whose body was found in Long Island Sound near Connecticut Friday afternoon, hours after his abandoned sailboat was discovered washed up along the Northville shoreline, officials said.

A Connecticut State Police marine patrol unit recovered the body of Francis Closter III, whom local police said had a history of illness, about 2:30 p.m. — nine hours after his 35-foot sailboat was first spotted by ConocoPhillips fuel terminal workers near Iron Pier Beach.

“We have the [state Department of Environmental Protection] doing a boat accident investigation,” Connecticut State Police Lt. Paul Vance told the News-Review Tuesday. “There appears right now to be no criminal aspect, pending the outcome of the DEP investigation.”

A spokeswoman with the state medical examiner’s office, which is performing an autopsy, said the cause of death is “pending further study,” which Lt. Vance later explained means coroners have ordered toxicology reports to check for any type of drugs or alcohol. “Not to say we think there are any, but at this point nothing has been ruled out,” Lt. Vance said.

After ConocoPhillips workers alerted police about the empty vessel, an “extensive” search was immediately launched from the beach, according to Riverhead Police Lt. Dave Lessard. Town police were joined by personnel from three area fire departments, the U.S. Coast Guard and Suffolk Police, which dispatched helicopters to scan the Sound. Police here called off the search about 9 a.m., as it was determined that if Mr. Closter had gone overboard, that would likely have occurred closer to Connecticut.

“If he went overboard, that’s probably where he went overboard,” Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said about noon Friday. “The GPS shows where he originated, where he was going, and at a point in between the boat was kind of doing circles by the Connecticut River. They’ve also located some other equipment up there.”

Mr. Closter is believed to have suffered from diabetes, Chief Hegermiller said.

His body was recovered from the water, not on a beach or along a shoreline, officials said.

The sailor had left Midway Marina in Haddam, Conn., about 5 p.m. Thursday and was headed for Clinton, Conn., a trip of some 20 miles, about 15 of them on the Connecticut River. The Coast Guard notified Mr. Closter’s spouse about 9 a.m. Friday that the boat had been found unattended off Long Island, Lt. Vance said.

That call was made about 30 minutes after she reported her husband missing, he said.

After finding the boat, called Jagular, ConocoPhillips workers tied it to a pier, where it awaited investigators, Riverhead Police said. It was later towed from the scene.

According to a U.S. Coast Guard press release, the vessel had its “sails up and electronics running” when it was found and “Closter’s wallet and glasses were also found aboard the boat.”

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Joseph Tumminello contributed reporting to this story.

05/31/11 3:21pm

George R. Hellermann of Manorville died May 25 at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead. He was 84.

Born in Brooklyn April 3, 1927, he was a high school graduate and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was a corrections officer in the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office in Riverhead.

Mr. Hellerman is survived by his wife, Olga (née Datzko); his sons, Mark, of Manorville, Glenn, of Mattituck, and Paul, of East Quogue; his brother, Jack, of Bellmore; his sister, Katherine Strunk of Pennsylvania; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Visiting hours took place May 30 at Reginald H. Tuthill Funeral Home in Riverhead, where a service was held May 31. Interment was at Calverton National Cemetery.

05/31/11 2:35pm

• The Riverhead community blood drive will be held at the Riverhead Fire Department on Roanoke Avenue on Tuesday, June 7, 1-7 p.m. Call Lauren at 369-9136.

• Peconic Bay Medical Center and East End Hospice will offer a 12-week bereavement group in the hospital’s first-floor chapel that will meet Thursdays, 3:30-5 p.m., beginning June 2. The group will be led by an East End Hospice certified professional grief therapist and is open to all who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Call Sarah Zimmerman at 288-8400 or Chaplain Dorothy Nagel at 548-6025.

• Cornell Cooperative Extension is hosting a free Spanish language training session on Supporting Children’s Healthy Development  for professionals who work with Latino families. The session is at Cornell’s Riverhead headquarters on Friday, June 10, 9 a.m.-noon. Call 727-7850, ext. 340.

To send Health Beat news, e-mail [email protected], fax to 298-3287, or mail to Times/Review Newspapers, P.O. Box 1500, Mattituck, NY 11952. Copy deadline: Friday at 5 p.m. to appear the following week.

05/31/11 2:31pm

NASCAR Modified veteran Chris Young of Calverton moved into some elite company Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway when he drove to his 33rd career victory at the 62-year-old facility. Young trails Charlie Jarzombek (63) and Jim Malone Sr. (50) on the track’s all-time win list.

“This win is pretty special,” Young said after the 35-lap race. “Charlie J and Jim Malone Sr. were drivers I idolized here and yet I still have Bill Park and Wayne Anderson to contend with today.”

Young and his wife, Ann, recently purchased a race track, Bronson Speedway in central Florida. “It’s kind of our next venture in racing, and we’ll make a go of it,” he said.

Dave Brigati of Calverton was second. Jerry Solomito of Islip turned some heads with his third-place finish. Wayne Anderson of Yaphank and Timmy Solomito of Islip completed the top five. Timmy Solomito, upon exiting his car, was rushed to a local hospital with a suspected broken wrist suffered during contact with five laps to go.

Shawn Patrick of Brightwaters notched his fourth career Late Model victory by warding off the persistent challenges of Peter Eriksen in the 25-lap affair. Peter Eriksen of Baldwin was a runner-up for the second straight week. Scott Kulesa of Georgetown, Mass., rallied for a third-place finish.

Chris Turbush of Riverhead collected his second win of the year, leading the final 15 laps of the 20-lap Super Pro Truck main event. It was the fifth career win in the class for Turbush, who is the three-time and defending Charger champion. Dave Koenig of Freeport was second, and the defending Super Pro Truck champion, Roger Turbush of Riverhead, was third.

The 20-lap Legend Race Car feature was trimmed down to 16 laps by the time limit. The race boiled down to a showdown between Timmy Solomito, who raced his way out front at the drop of the green flag, and Chris Young, who was seeking his second straight win.

On a single-file restart on Lap 12, Young shoved Solomito from behind hard into the first turn and was able to take over the lead at that point. But Solomito then did the same to Young to recapture the lead, which he held to the end. Kevin Nowak of Medford completed a late-race rally for second. Justin Strumpf of Selden was third.

Michael Rommeney of Maspeth dominated the full-size school bus figure eight race to score the win over Don Fox of Flanders in a 10-lap event.

The first minivan demolition derby was won by a driver making his first career start. Daniel Mulqueen of Levittown outlasted his brother, Matt, for the victory.

STROUD’S SUNDAY IS GRAND Walter Stroud of Yaphank had a grand afternoon Sunday at Riverhead Raceway when he topped the 50-lap Grand Enduro event in convincing fashion. Ben Gregor of Bridgehampton drove to victory in the 50-lap four/six-cylinder truck enduro.

Stroud took full advantage of his front-row starting berth, quickly racing to the lead when the green flag dropped. Bob Engelfried of Stony Brook finished second and David Antos of Lindenhurst was third.

In the four/six-cylinder truck enduro, Gregor pulled in front on the 35th lap and sped away to the victory. Don Nelson Jr. of Rocky Point was second and Rob McCormick of Calverton was third.

Anthony Pizzo of Lake Ronkonkoma drove to victory in the 75-lap feature for eight-cylinder cars. Dominic Ranieri of East Northport was second and veteran Bob Baker of Shirley placed third.

In the 50-lap nightcap for the eight-cylinders, Dominic Ranieri finished first and was immediately followed by Bob Baker and Walter Stroud.

Gene Burbol of Brookhaven ran away to the victory in the 50-lap, six-cylinder enduro, leading all the way. Jeffrey Gregor of Bridgehampton was second while Mitchell Pattern of Southold, a late entry in the race, came in third.

In the four-cylinder enduro that went a distance of 50 laps, Steve Trimboli of Freeport, the defending champion in the class, scored the win. Robert Endlekofer of Miller Place was second, with third going to Dennis Nelson of Rocky Point.

05/31/11 12:56pm

Not only is May the time of year when many of nature’s prettiest and most wondrously colored flowers are revealed, but it is also an appropriate time to feature some really outstanding students of music as well.

The remarkable sounds of the Shoreham-Wading River High School music department filled the air at the spring concert on May 25.

The concert choir, directed by Dennis Creighton and accompanied by Sandy Fayette, performed five notable pieces that featured two groups of soloists — Nick Franze, Sarah Pluta, Haylie Kinsler, Laura Lee, Eric Lopez and Emily Godfrey on “Any Way You Want It” and Juliana Mazzone, Rachel Hunter, Ben Sevilla, Kerri Beacon, Raeanne Mariella, Emily Godfrey, Taylor Burgess, Isabelle Marcelin and Haylie Kinsler on “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

David Minelli’s concert band played four selections and French horn soloist Melaina Badalian demonstrated her absolute command over and passion for her instrument. Not only was Melaina showered with bouquets of flowers, but this talented young lady received a standing ovation as well.

David Minelli spoke of all of the music students whose directors see them each day for all of their four years in high school. “They come in as boys and girls, training at various levels of musical accomplishment, but leave quite proficient young men and women, ready to face the world,” he said. The concert band had to say good-bye to 20 graduating seniors this year.

Steven Fayette’s symphony orchestra performed four selections that included a John Cage piece called 4’33” that the notable composer wrote as a comment on silence. The point of the piece, which lasts 4 minutes and 33 seconds, is that there is no such thing as silence. On “Symphonie Espagnole for Violin and Orchestra, Op.21” by Edouard Lalo, Rachel Syzmanski was the featured violin soloist. I’m still sighing over how she made her instrument sing — truly unbelievable.

The concert mistress was Abigail Fayette and principal players were Christian Perricone, Kristofer Barr, Rosario Terracina, Michael Mazzola, Nicole Caligiuri, Melissa McDonald, Daniel Beacon, Melaina Badalian, Kyle McElhone, Michael Sanders and Kristopher Miller.

What a lovely night of music. Thank you to all the graduating seniors for the years of “service in song” that you gave us, gracing the stage of SWR High School.