Six Bellmore-Merrick baseball players are national champions. The boys are members of the Long Island Prospects, a 14-and-under travel baseball team that won the Athletx Youth Nationals tournament in Elizabethtown, Ky., on July 10.
The Prospects, led by Coach Bob Delaney, were among 92 teams from 20 states and Canada to compete in the weeklong tournament.
Delaney and his fellow coaches — Mike Conry, Ray Valeriano and Sam Acri, all of Bellmore — said that some had doubted whether the team could go all the way in the tournament. The coaches, though, said that the squad, comprising ballplayers from across Long Island, proved the naysayers wrong when they defeated the Panthers of Macomb, Mich., in the final game, 2-1.
The championship team includes Alec Acri (Bellmore), Matt Conry (Bellmore), Jack Delaney (Merrick), Bill McAdam (Bellmore), Eric Solomon (Merrick) and Nick Valeriano (Bellmore). Acri, Conry, McAdam, Solomon and Valeriano are all students at Mepham High School. Delaney attends Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale. The rest of the squad is made up of players from Bayport, Huntington, Lindenhurst, Massapequa, Mattituck, Rockville Centre and Setauket.
Before the championship game, the Prospects defeated teams from Texas, Illinois, Michigan and Florida to advance to the tournament’s playoffs. Delaney noted that they were one of only two teams that went into the playoffs undefeated, which made them a top seed.
The squad’s record remained unblemished in the playoffs. The Prospects eliminated teams from Texas, Kentucky and Georgia to advance to the championship game against the Panthers.
After both teams put players on base but were held scoreless through the first two innings of the final game, the Prospects’ starting pitcher, Chris Wasson, of Massapequa, yielded a leadoff walk in the top of the third. A single through the hole by the Panthers’ Brian Naidus put two men on with no outs, but Wasson worked out of the jam to keep the teams deadlocked at 0-0.
In the bottom half of the third inning, a walk, a hit and an error loaded the bases for the Prospects. After falling behind 0-2 in the pitch count, Delaney walked, allowing Conry to score.