The 2019 postseason for the Nassau County Baseball A-League is right around the corner, as each team is down to their last series of the 2019 regular season. The first four series has already come to an end; and now, the real battle begins where the Top 2 teams of each conference trying to maintain their lead to clinch a high seed, with the borderline 3rd and 4th place teams are still searching their way to squeeze in their way to the playoffs. For every contending team, there are many hopes and scenarios that each team thinks about and how it may benefit them in a certain way. Let’s discuss about the top 2 teams of each conference in Nassau A and see how they got to the spot they are currently at.
TOP 2 OF EACH CONFERENCE
A-1 1st Calhoun (9-2-1)
Calhoun holds the advantage of the tiebreaker over MacArthur, who they defeated twice and tied with once. The Calhoun Colts won all four of the series they have previously played this season, and they look to finish off and win the series against Valley Stream Central.
Jake Marine appears to be the greatest threat for the opposing pitchers. Marine is the sole player to hit a home run for the Colts and leads the team in every major offensive category. Ben Kovel and Jake Edwards also contribute to the team consistently, as they both notched at least 10 hits and owns an exceptional batting average.
Jake Edwards (4-1) is noted as one of the best pitchers in Nassau County. So far in this season, Edwards recorded 45 strikeouts and only allowed 3 runs and 3 walks in 6 appearances. Edwards maintains a phenomenal ERA of 0.68.
The Nassau AA quarterfinalist looks to seek revenge and stay sharp to dominate in the Nassau A tournament.
A-1 2nd MacArthur (9-2-1)
The last time we saw the Generals last year was their defeat against cross-town rival Division Avenue in the semifinals of last year’s Nassau A County Championship. This year, the Generals look to start off strong and continue with that momentum all the way over to where they left off, hoping to participate as one of the finalists this year.
The Generals have a very strong offense, led by Sean Tierney, the powerhouse who leads the team with 3 home runs. Other players that heavily contribute for the Generals include David Johnsen and Justin DeMaria.
The Generals have a consistent pitching staff who frequently shuts down their opponents during their outings. Watch out for Nick Tucci, as he threw a no-hitter against Valley Stream Central in a 10:0 shutout victory.
Despite of losing the bragging rights of being the best team in A-1 to Calhoun, MacArthur quickly bounced back and found alternatives to continue to keep their hot streak alive. Will this continue and possibly exceed their limits from last season this time around?
A-2 1st Garden City (11-1)
The Trojans are completely dominating in their conference right now, going with a record of 11-1; the one loss came from Bellmore JFK in a 3:0 defeat. Head Coach Dave Izzo has expressed much excitement about his team to bounce back and try to win this year’s counties after falling short by getting swept to powerhouse Wantagh in the semifinals.
The core of the offense for the Trojans is Tommy Reilfer. The Binghamton-commit shortstop shows he is one of the most complete players in the county, committing only 2 errors in 60 chances and batting with a .583 average. Reifler has hit 11 extra-base hits including a home run so far during the 2019 regular season run. Plattsburgh-commit left fielder Mike Rasquin also play a big role for the team, hitting a .371 average and driving in 12 runs.
The Trojans also have a prominent pitching staff who batters especially have a very hard time hitting against. The notable pitchers for Garden City to keep a closer eye on include Christian McGannon, Stephen Baymack, and Jake Fraher, who combine with a record of 6-1, 2 saves, 46 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched.
With their dominance in A-2 carrying to the playoffs, Garden City looks to continue their supremacy and have their sights set on the Nassau A County Championship going forward.
A-2 2nd Carey (9-3)
One of the most all-around teams around Nassau A Baseball, the Carey Seahawks find themselves in a good spot prior to the road to playoffs. Standing tall with a 9-3 record, Carey looks to win out the season against Garden City to increase their shots of obtaining a higher seed.
Fortunately enough, Carey has many reliable options especially during critical moments of the game. Senior Riley De Meo currently bats a .490 average and successfully stole 15 bases. Seniors Connor Huckemeyer and Matt Cosgrove boasts their exceptional hitting abilities, as they both have a batting average of .380 and combine for 37 RBIs. Junior Garrett Scavelli also hits a solid .343 batting average, while scoring 25 runs and stole 13 bases.
The Seahawks are known to have one of the best arsenals in the county. All of Carey’s starters — Nick Castel (11th), Connor Huckemeyer (12th), and Matt Cosgrove (12th) — have an ERA that does not exceed 1.80. Nick Castel remains to be undefeated with a 4-0 record.
Don’t be surprised if Carey makes a deep run in the playoffs because many of the Seahawks can certainly hit the ball consistently and additionally dominate on the mound.
A-3 1st Bethpage (9-3)
Despite losing in a split series against Plainedge on Opening Week, Bethpage became red hot, winning the last 8 out of 9 games. Bethpage is collectively batting a .317 average and scored 68 runs the past 3 series.
The offense is mainly led by Brody Paola, Brian O’Boyle, and Chris McGuggart, which the trio combines 46 hits for the 2019 season. STAC-commit Peter Schimmel is also another big factor for the team, who leads Bethpage with the most home runs (3) and RBIs (14).
For the Bethpage Eagles, they generally do not feel pressured to score more runs, as the 3 starting pitchers for Bethpage help their team keep the steady lead. Molloy-commit and undefeated (4-0 in 4 starts) Bethpage ace Richie Gennaro still dominates on the mound, maintaining a 0.86 ERA and has only allowed 3 runs.
Bethpage looks to win the series against current Nassau A-3 2nd place Hewlett. Other A-3 teams such as Southside and Plainedge have the chance to win out and claim one of the top 2 slots of A-3.
A-3 2nd Hewlett (7-4-1)
Hewlett has also shown dominance during the first four series of the season, despite the recent series against Southside. Hewlett is brought to light by the help of Dillon Ristano at the plate. Hewlett’s three-hole hitter showed consistency, going 7-for-10 and driving 2 runs during the series with Southside.
On the other hand, the Bulldogs rely heavily on their best pitcher Jason Barry. Whether Barry starts or relieves, he continues to show positivity and boosts confidence for the Bulldogs. In Jason Barry’s first start against Roslyn, he completed the game in a shutout victory, striking out 11 and only allowing 5 hits.
The only main flaw for Hewlett is its incapability of walking less batters per game.
Overall, Hewlett still maintains a high spot in the A-3 conference. They will finish off the 2019 regular season against the Bethpage Eagles.
A-4 1st Wantagh (9-3)
The winner of last season’s Nassau A County Championship looks to continue to make a bold statement of why their success will carry on to this year.
For the Warriors, the center of attention goes to Mason McLane, who is also one of their starting pitchers for the team. Other notable players include Dylan Scott and Ray Gathgaber.
The bigger strength for Wantagh is their pitching. Matthew Saborio (5 wins) and Mason McLane (4 wins) have gained much success so far in their 2019 run. During McLane’s outings against Floral Park and Lynbrook, Mason McLane threw back-to-back no hitters and 32 strikeouts.
The one team everyone hopes it would malfunction in the playoffs is Wantagh. The Warriors looks to repeat and continue their everlasting supremacy in Nassau A Baseball.
A-4 2nd Division (9-3)
After a heartbreaking loss in the Nassau A Finals, the Division Avenue Dragons sure look to make a bigger statement that they are the better team in this year’s tournament.
First off, the Queens-commit outfielder and pitcher Colin Diez definitely contributes for the Dragons big time, as he can simply just do it all, whether it’s at the plate, on the mound, or out in the outfield. The X-factor for Division Avenue has a phenomenal batting average — as expected — with .444 and an OPS of .583. Diez proves to also have great baserunning abilities, scoring 16 runs and going 16/16 in stolen bases. The success for Division Avenue looks to grow and continue, thanks to the help of Colin Diez.
Division has one of the best 1-2 punches in the county. Their two best pitchers — Robert Bradley and Jake Lombardi — combine for 82 strikeouts and a 7-2 record so far in the 2019 regular season. Both players also obtain an ERA that is less than 1.50. Colin Diez also helps the Dragons dominate and continue to win games, having a 5-1 record with a 1.62 ERA and 2 complete games.
This past week, Division Avenue were able to cover up their woes from last year after avoiding the sweep against the winner of the Nassau A County Championship, Wantagh. The bigger question is “Can they repeat that same outcome during the playoffs and win it all or was it just ‘pure luck?’”
A-5 1st Clarke (10-1-1)
With 410 victories, 17 conference championships, 5 county championships, 3 Long Island championships, and 2 NY State championships, Coach Tom Abruscato will continue his decorated coaching career going forward in the playoffs. Clarke has stayed red hot and swept Island Trees and Locust Valley the past two series.
Expect players like CJ Cumbo, Chris Giardino, and Tyler Cox to heat up significantly during the playoffs. The Molloy-commit Chris Giardino looks to prove that his hitting seems very effective in the cleanup, driving several runs a game especially during blowouts. Meanwhile, CJ Cumbo is leading the Clarke Rams with 2 home runs. The sophomore phenomenon Tyler Cox also looks to become a threat for opposing pitchers at the 3-hole slot.
For Clarke, as expected, the Rams’ pitching staff looks to be very dominant so far in the 2019 season. Rams’ ace and Dominican College-commit Brendan Turton remains to be undefeated in 4 regular season starts (3-0-1); the ace continues to shut out the opposing batters precisely, averaging about 9 strikeouts a game.
Not only can the Clarke baseball program trust on their talented team, but they can also trust on their legendary coach for continuing to lead them to success. With Coach Abruscato’s lengthy experience in the playoffs, he’ll already know how to adjust his gameplans immediately during critical situations and hopes to outcoach the opposing coach, game by game.
A-5 2nd Seaford (9-2-1)
Seaford appears to be quite a dangerous team, as they won, lost, and tied against the leading Nassau A-5 conference team, Clarke. Regardless, Seaford still looks to be on the right track after winning 5 in their past 6 games.
Expect Brian McCloskey and Nick Barreiros to play a consequential role coming playoff time. They both have notched multiple hits a game and even helping Seaford to score runs at very critical times which later sealed the game.
Chris Pupa in his last start really impressed the Nassau baseball world, as he pitched 7 1/3 innings, striking out 10, and allowing only 1 run during his outing against Island Trees. Despite Seaford’s ace Frank Cozzolino fell just short against Island Trees, Cozzolino still pulled an outstanding performance, throwing for 7 innings, allowing 2 hits and 2 runs, and striking out 7 batters. Pupa and Cozzolino look to be the key factors on the mound for Seaford.
Don’t count out on Seaford just yet!
A-3 3rd Plainedge (7-5)
Regardless of them getting swept by Southside, Plainedge without a doubt is a sleeper for Nassau’s A-3. Having the bragging rights of winning the series against Bethpage and Hewlett, their confidence to clinch a decent spot in the playoffs and win against better caliber teams is surely motivated.
DJ Kregeloh and Anthony Labita serve as the two powerhouses of the team, as they both lead the team in home runs with 2. The two core hitters for Plainedge each hit a home run in their recent series with Roslyn and notching a total of 8 RBIs in the first two games of the Plainedge/Roslyn series.
Nick Incalcaterra is someone to not take lightly, as he threw a complete game and a no-hitter while only giving up 2 runs in his last two starts. As Incalcaterra is starting to heat up coming playoffs, it will definitely become a challenge for batters to hit off against him.
Don’t be too shocked when you see Plainedge pulling upsets and putting up a fight against higher seeds in the playoffs!
A-4 3rd North Shore (7-4-1)
The quarterfinalist of last year’s Nassau A tournament seek to overcome all obstacles and their sights to win counties. The North Shore Vikings aren’t too far apart from the top 2 teams in A-4. North Shore took home the split series against Wantagh, but lost to Division Avenue in a split series.
The North Shore Vikings have many hitters to look up to when at bat. The three-hole hitter (Senior) Danny Livoti is the X-factor for the Vikings’ lineup, batting with a .444 average, 2 HRs, 12 RBIs, and 11 walks. The Vikings’ best slugger gives North Shore many opportunities to drive in runs, as he owns a 1.196 OPS. Another red-hot hitter for North Shore is their very own leadoff hitter, (Senior) Matt Lewin. The Bard College-commit possess great plate discipline and also gets on base as frequently as Livoti, possessing a .997 OPS.
North Shore’s biggest strength is hands-down their pitching staff. The ace for the Vikings’ pitching staff is Sacred Heart-commit David Aufiero. The All-County recipient of last season and the Newsday Top Player of this year has a 4-1 record, with 34 strikeouts, and 2.10 ERA in 29 innings pitched. “With David on the mound, we feel like we can compete with anybody,” claims Head Coach Scott Lineman.
Although being part of arguably the most “stacked” conference in Nassau County, North Shore continues to empower with their various weapons. They continue to rack up games and look for a much bigger success than people would expect.
As the playoffs race starts to tense up, all of the teams have one common mission: win the counties. All of these teams here — and some that are not — all believe their dominance throughout the season gives them the reason to believe why they are “The Team” this year. The bigger question is “Who will really take the Nassau A crown home?”