Locals garner top baseball honors


Anthony D’Onofrio and Brandon Buchan played high school baseball down the road from each other and last week shined on the same stage as kings of the diamond.

D’Onofrio of Wantagh High School and Buchan of MacArthur both taking home Diamond awards at the Nassau County Baseball Coaches Association dinner. Buchan won the Doug Robins Diamond Award as the county’s top pitcher while D’Onofrio received the Don Lang Diamond Award as Nassau’s best positional player.

“It was a really special honor,” said D’Onofrio, who hit .512 as a senior with five home runs and 31 RBIs. “I worked so hard all season long and it all paid off.”

Buchan took his pitching skills up a level this spring after throwing just 4 1/3 innings as a junior in 2017 behind a senior-laden staff and getting sidelined from the pithing mound as a sophomore due to an elbow injury. The lefty went 8-0 with a 0.46 ERA and helped MacArthur to a 19-5-1 campaign that was ended in the Class A semifinals by crosstown rival Division. Six of his eight wins were against playoff teams and he allowed two hits or less in five starts.

“Not getting to pitch in 10th grade and not getting many innings last year, not many people knew my capabilities,” said Buchan, a Seaford resident who credits his father for mentoring him on the mound going back to his days in the Levittown North Little League. “I wanted to prove I could do it and I did.”

D’Onofrio received the prestigious award just five days after his Wantagh career ended in heartbreaking fashion with a 5-3 extra innings loss to Lakeland during state semifinals in Binghamton. The Hofstra-bound shortstop was a four-year varsity member who helped the Warriors capture a state title in 2016 and three straight Long Island championships. Wantagh head coach Keith Sachs, who also played baseball at Hofstra, credited D’Onofrio’s constant determination to improve his skills and conditioning for his rise to the top of the sport.

“Each year he got better and better,” said Sachs of D’Onofrio, who hit .428 with 73 RBIs and 64 stolen bases out of 67 attempts in his four Warrior seasons. “He worked so hard, 24-7 on and off the field.”

Buchan will also be taking his game to the collegiate level at SUNY Maritime, where he earned a full academic scholarship and will major in engineering. His final high school season was one for the record books with the southpaw only surrendering 15 hits to 175 batters with 86 strikeouts. He was also a force at the plate hitting three home runs at MacArthur's home field despite very deep fences.

“It was a pretty ridiculous year in terms of numbers,” said MacArthur head coach Steve Costello, who credited Buchan for his hard work ethic in the offseason that enabled him to up his fastball from the low 80s to the high 80s. “It was a season for the ages.”