After almost two weeks of pool play amongst the 16 teams, we now have 4 teams left: Clarke, Division, Bethpage, and MacArthur. During the semifinals of the Nassau A playoffs, there will be 2 matchups — Clarke/MacArthur and Division/Bethpage — and the winner of those matchups will face off in the Nassau A County Championship. Now that we’re further into the playoffs, the seeds that these teams were labeled as now becomes regardless, because anything can happen in the playoffs. On top of talent, it’s the “heart” and the “yearning to play more” that will drive a team to go hard and advance to their season-long milestone: County Championship. In this article, you’ll see the updated accomplishments with some stats of each of the four semi finalist teams.
(2) Clarke (13-1-1)
The Clarke Rams — no surprise — are back in the Final Four picture. Despite just missing the semifinals in last year’s playoff run, the Rams, nonetheless, have familiarity with reaching at a high stage in the playoffs.
For the Rams, 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 and coming up clutch during critical moments late in the games. Meanwhile, their powerhouses — CJ Cumbo and Tyler Cox — still remain as intimidating factors for opposing pitchers.
On the mound, Brendan Turton remains unstoppable; combining both regular season and postseason, Turton has yet lost a game for the Rams, making him rank as one of the best pitchers in terms of wins. In Turton’s last start against Manhasset, Turton tossed a complete game shutout, only allowing 5 hits and struck out 11 batters. Expect Turton to have an outstanding performance during the semifinals; it would shock everyone if what we all have thought ended up completely opposite.
(3) Division (13-2)
After a heartbreaking loss in the Nassau A Finals last season, the Division Avenue Dragons look to seek vengeance and successfully finish up what they could not finish last year. Division Avenue will return to the Nassau A Semifinals for the third consecutive year. They will certainly have the higher ground due to more playoff experience than Bethpage and achieving to reach the semifinals for three straight seasons.
Just like Bethpage’s dominant 1-2 punch, Division also has a phenomenal 1-2 punch that can match up with Bethpage’s: Queens-commit Colin Diez and Jake Lombardi. This past Monday, Colin Diez successfully eliminated Seaford, pitching a complete game shutout with 11 strikeouts. Jake Lombardi also pitched a complete game, only allowing one run on 4 hits and struck out 10 batters in the first meeting with Seaford during the playoff pool play. If necessary, Robert Bradley can also put up big numbers to help carry Division on the mound if either Diez and/or Lombardi are ineligible to play if Game 3 is forced.
Aside from their dominant pitching staff, Division has proven to have a strong batting lineup. Colin Diez also shows to have excellent all-around skills after going 5-9 in the past two outings. The success for Division Avenue looks to grow and continue, thanks to the help of Colin Diez.
(5) Bethpage (12-3)
For the first time since 2013, the Bethpage Eagles have came on top and won their conference [A-3]. Despite not being the favorite to win their playoff pool, the Bethpage Eagles defied all odds and triumphed over Carey and Calhoun. Although Valley Stream North defeated Bethpage in their first meeting of the double elimination pool play, right after eliminating Calhoun, Bethpage rallied on and successfully got their revenge with back-to-back victories against VSN including the 15:2 this past Tuesday.
Offensively, Bethpage is a very versatile team and has arguably one of the most threatening lineups in the county, today. Throughout this postseason, Bethpage collectively has a batting average of .368. The offense tempo is set by Chris McGuggart, who hits a .389 batting average with a home run and 5 RBIs. Other players like Old Westbury-commit Nick Wendling, Pat Dalton, and Alex Purchick also leave a significant impact for Bethpage, as they consistently get on base and hit at least a .400 batting average. Don’t count out on elite players such as STAC-commit Peter Schimmel, Brody Paola, and Brian O’Boyle, as they still come up clutch at very critical moments.
For the Eagles, their ace and Molloy-commit Richie Gennaro has yet lost a game for Bethpage and has not given up more than 2 runs in each of his starts. So far during his 2 postseason starts, Gennaro has pitched complete games in both games and struck out 15 batters. On the other hand, Old Westbury-commit Nick Wendling had an outstanding performance on the mound a few days ago during the elimination game against Valley Stream North; he struck out 7 batters, only allowed 3 hits, and gave up just a run in a big blowout victory. If Gennaro and Wendling continue their consistent dominance, the Eagles’ batting lineup must help these pitchers with insurance runs against the red-hot Division Dragons. Matchups between Gennaro/Diez and Wendling/Lombardi could arguably be the must-see matchups in Nassau County Baseball.
(8) MacArthur (10-4-1)
MacArthur was definitely a dark horse, coming in at the start of the postseason. Without a doubt, the MacArthur Generals have a well-balanced team, leading to bringing them to a spot that they’re in right now. After surviving heavy-contending teams such as Garden City, Southside, and Plainedge and advancing to the next round proves they are up for a challenge without any fear.
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. Their ace pitcher, Nick Tucci, shows great command on the mound; one of his great accomplishments earlier in the year was his no-hitter against Valley Stream South in late-April. Tucci has played a significant role in the playoffs, as MacArthur went undefeated during the playoff pool play and easily moved on to the semifinals.
The semifinals in the Nassau AA playoffs: (8)MacArthur vs (2)Clarke & (3)Division vs (5)Bethpage. The Nassau A Semifinals will take place on Friday (5/24), Saturday (5/25), and — if necessary — Monday (5/27).
Both matchups will definitely be worthwhile to watch and remember for a while, as the playoff race slowly winds down. We’ll see all these four exceptional teams go at it, but there’s only two teams in the finals and can later say “We were the ‘better’ of the best.”
MacArthur has played well in their unforgettable season, but we truly believe that the likes of CJ Cumbo, Tyler Cox, and Brendan Turton heating up is too true to refute against. Clarke will take both games.
Bethpage also achieved a major milestone for the first time in a couple of years. The matchup between Bethpage and Division — with no doubt — will be super tight, and we’re confident that a Game 3 will be forced. We strongly believe that after a hard fought war in the best-of-3 series, Division will climb over Bethpage in Game 3 and move on to the championship. However, DO NOT BE SURPRISED IF BETHPAGE UPSETS DIVISION...
Clarke beats MacArthur & ADVANCES IN 2.
Division beats Bethpage & ADVANCES IN 3.