Year in and year out, numerous high school baseball coaches in the county refer to Nassau Class A as the toughest section in the state, and for good reason. Each season a strong program will find itself on the outside looking in at the playoffs, and the team the ends up bringing home the title will have been more than tested during its championship run.
Carey, which won the conference title in 2017, had to scratch and claw all season long just to earn its eleventh consecutive postseason berth. After dropping five straight games to fall under .500, the Seahawks closed out the regular season with two straight wins over South Side to earn the No. 12 seed in the playoffs.
In the series finale with the Cyclones, senior Mike Ruffini allowed just one earned run and struck out 11 to lead Carey to a 4-2 victory. Ruffini also went 3-for-3 with a home run and a pair of RBI. Nick Brusca and Chris Tile each had two hits and a run scored. Matt Cosgrove earned the save.
In the penultimate game, catcher Vic DeNicola had a big day at the plate going 3-for-4 with an RBI as Carey went on the road for a 6-2 win. A.J. Vincenzi struck out seven over six innings to pick up the win. Ruffini homered in the top of the seventh to give the Seahawks an insurance run.
Head coach Mike Farina doesn’t believe his team’s 10-8 league record is indicative of its talent. “We were tested often in a league that’s an absolute bear,” Farina said. “We faced solid pitchers every time we took the field. It was a grind, but we bounced back from adversity and now have our sights set on the playoffs.”
The Seahawks will play in four-team bracket along with Mineola, Hewlett, and Division to open the postseason. Results of pool play were unavailable at press time.
Carey ace Dom Rutigliano leads a solid pitching staff into the postseason. Despite a 2-3 record, Rutigliano, who has a sub 3.00 ERA, lost a pair of games where he surrendered two or fewer runs, and on both occasions Carey was no-hit.
In addition to a strong starting rotation of Rutigliano, Vincenzi, and Ruffini, the Seahawks will lean on Cosgrove and closer Connor Huckemeyer to get big outs. Huckemeyer, who could start for most teams, registered two wins and a pair of saves, and thrives when the game is on the line.
Playoff success generally requires good pitching, sound defense and timely hitting. Carey should be a tough opponent. Farina lauded the solid glove work the team received from DeNicola behind the plate, Cosgrove at first base, and Brusca at second, and the clutch hitting from Tile.
Garrett Scavelli emerged as the toughest out in the Carey lineup. The sophomore center fielder, who batted leadoff and out of the three-hole, hit for an average of nearly .500 with a pair of home runs.