Clutch hitting leads Clarke


Defending Nassau Class A baseball champion Clarke continues to find ways to succeed on the diamond.

The Rams busted out of the gate this spring with seven consecutive Conference A-IV victories, including four by a single run. Last week, they managed quite a bit of magic in the bottom of the seventh to secure back-to-back walk-off wins over Mineola.

“The bats are coming through in the clutch,” coach Tom Abruscato said. “We don’t have the kind of power we’re used to, but the guys are doing a nice job of manufacturing runs.”

On April 3, Clarke trailed Mineola by a run heading into its final at-bat and found a way to squeeze out a 5-4 victory. A sacrifice fly by Peter Falgiano tied it and set up John Macchia’s walk-off single that plated Jesse Russo with the winning run. “Mineola is much improved and gave us three tough games,” Abruscato said. Joe Trouno picked up the win on the mound. 

The previous day saw Kevin Lada drive in Falgiano with the winning run in the seventh for a 6-5 decision. Hasan Deljannin earned the victory and has taken hold of the No. 2 starting assignment behind Mike Turton.

In the series opener April 1, Turton scattered six hits in a complete-game 7-3 win. Turton, a senior, didn’t allow any earned runs or walks, and struck out six. He got the nod in the season opener against Locust Valley and allowed three hits and one walk while fanning seven in six innings of a 2-1 win. “We had some figuring out to do with the staff coming into the year, but we were counting on Mike to anchor it,” Abruscato said. “He’s thrown well so far.

“We still haven’t figured everything out,” Abruscato said of the rotation and some field positions. “The season started so early. What’s good about our pitching is we have seven or eight guys that can throw.”

In the second game of the Locust Valley series, Lewis Hungria worked three innings of scoreless relief and earned the decision in a 7-2 victory. He gave up two hits and struck out four. Mike Gismondi went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and two driven in to lead the offense. 

Alex Brillantino pitched Clarke to a 4-3 win on March 27 to complete a series sweep of the Falcons. Macchia had two hits and knocked in Lada with the eventual winning run in the top of the fourth.

“I think these are the type of games we’re going to play all season long,” Abruscato said. “The conference is loaded with talented teams and coaches. We’re expecting a battle every series.”

Last Monday, the Rams opened a three-game set with Valley Stream North and won a rain-shortened affair, 5-2. Turton had his third quality start — and win — of 2014. Falgiano knocked in two runs in a game halted in the bottom of the sixth.

Clarke faces Island Trees in a three-game series that begins at home next Monday.