CLASS A COUNTY FINALS, GAME 1 | PHANTOMS 8, WILDCATS 1
After losing a player the caliber of Jack Piekos — a hard-throwing lefty who twice won the Paul Gibson Award as the top pitcher in the county — it could have been easy to overlook Bayport-Blue Point. Piekos was the undisputed ace of a team that won back-to-back state championships in 2013 and ’14.
Piekos may be gone (he now attends the University of Maryland), but the bevy of talented pitchers remains at Bayport.
In Game 1 of the Class A county finals Thursday, Shoreham-Wading River matched up against Jake Scimone, a senior righty. When the Phantoms won their first title in 2013, Scimone anchored the JV as a sophomore.
Scimone escaped some early trouble Thursday and worked his way to a complete game victory, helping the Phantoms to an 8-1 win in Bayport. The Phantoms are now a win away from their third consecutive county title.
The series shifts to Shoreham Friday for Game 2.
Scimone gave up seven hits and struck out one with three walks.
“He’s a kid who throws 90 percent fastballs,” said Shoreham coach Kevin Willi. “But I think he’s a Bartolo Colon, throwing something that’s moving a little. That’s why we can’t square him up.”
The Wildcats will face their fourth elimination game of the postseason when they return home tomorrow. They’re already 3-0 in those games, having defeated Westhampton to open the playoffs and then Glenn twice after losing Game 1 of the semifinals.
The Wildcats will need consecutive wins against the Phantoms now if they hope to clinch the program’s first county title since 2012.
The Phantoms have had their number of late, winning six straight games now against the Wildcats going back to last season.
A five-run fourth inning blew the game open for Bayport in Game 1. Shortstop Jake Liberatore capped it off with a three-run home run down the left field line.
All five runs came with two outs. Shoreham senior John Montesano retired the first two hitters of the inning on four pitches. But the floodgates quickly opened as the next five batters all reached base.
It was the kind of inning that has haunted Shoreham against the Phantoms all season.
“They did that to us in the [regular] season,” Willi said. “Heartbreaking kind of stuff. We got to close out innings.”
The Phantoms first run in the third inning also came with two outs when Sal Geraci launched a double off the fence in left to score Liberatore, who had reached base on a walk.
Montesano went five innings for Shoreham before Brandon Bottari came in for the final two. The Phantoms got two runs off Bottari in the sixth.
The Wildcats had their chances early to possibly score and take a lead. But they stranded runners at the corners in the first and second. The Wildcats left nine men on base through the first six innings. Shoreham’s lone run came in the seventh inning on a two-out double to right-center by Miles Kelly.
“It could have been 2-1,” Willi said. “If we played solid ball, it would have been 2-1, 3-1, something like that. We just made a couple miscues.”
The Wildcats will hand the ball to senior Matt Fox in Game 2. Fox was in a similar position against Glenn when he led the team to a victory in the second game of that series.
“I feel good about him throwing,” Willi said.
If the Wildcats can get a win, the series would extend to a Game 3 Monday back in Bayport.