Clarke wins baseball title

Balanced offense leads way in Class A sweep of Plainedge


Clarke jumped out of the gates with more runs scored (four) than outs in the top of the first inning of Game 2 of the Nassau County best-of-three Class A baseball championship series against No. 13 Plainedge at Farmingdale State last night and cruised to a 10-3 victory and two-game sweep.

The third-seeded Rams (22-5) captured their fifth Nassau County crown in the last 11 years and first since 2009 by piling all 10 of their runs into the first four innings with all nine batters either driving in a run or scoring one.

"In this park you’re not going to hit home runs so we said let’s work the gaps on the turf,” coach Tom Abruscato said of his team which belted out five doubles and a pair of triples among its 14 hits.

Senior pitcher Joe Fusco, who went the distance on the mound, kick-started the offense in the first, booming an 0-2 pitch to left that plated senior leadoff hitter Jessie Russo and No. 3 hitter John Fogarty. Junior designated hitter Mike Gismondi followed with a single to score Fusco and came home on senior Sean Dunn’s sacrifice fly.

Backed by an offense that added a pair of runs in the second, one in the third and three more in the fourth, Fusco did his job on the mound, scattering eight hits with three walks and striking out six, though he did run into a bit of trouble in the first and fourth innings. “He did a heck of a job,” Abruscato said. “They really swung the bats, and even some of their outs were hit hard.”

Fusco agreed with his coach’s assessment and didn’t truly feel comfortable until he squeezed the final out, a grounder back to the box, and threw to first to end the game. “It’s always nice to have four runs in the first, but it’s the Nassau County championships and when you can hit like Plainedge, the pressure’s never really off.”

Clarke, which knocked off Plainedge, 7-2 in the first game on Memorial Day, will take on Suffolk County’s Class A champion Bayport-Blue Point on Tuesday at Farmingdale State with the first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m.