With playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the Valley Stream North pitchers came through when the Spartans needed them the most.
Coming off a frustrating three-game sweep at the hands of Division, Chris Manzi, Colin McGreevy and Eddie Ye combined to limit Lynbrook scoreless on nine hits over 21 innings as Valley Stream North moved closer to the top three in Conference A-4, which guarantees postseason berths.
Valley Stream North won two of three non-league games to start the season and led by a run in the fifth during the first game of its three-game set with Division before Blue Dragons plated five runs in the frame en route to a 7-3 loss. Division won the final two games by a combined 14-3 score to sweep the series and drop the Spartans’ overall record to 2-3.
“We played really bad baseball [against Division],” VSN coach Phil Sanfilippo said. “We had self-inflicted wounds the entire week and it was really nice that we turned it all around.”
Valley Stream North rebounded on April 16 behind Manzi’s complete-game three-hitter, in which he fanned nine with no walks in a 2-0 win over Lynbrook. McGreevy and Michael Benicasa provided the offense with RBI singles.
With a rainout the day before, Sanfilippo decided to rework his rotation and use his best statistical pitcher this season in Manzi as the stopper.
“With a three-game losing streak, I decided to use him Game 1 to end [it],” he said. “That worked out great because he came out and fired up an absolute gem.”
McGreevy finally got into the win column the next day by also scattering three hits over seven innings and striking out nine in an 8-0 whitewashing of the Owls. It was a solid bounce back start for the senior hurler, who dropped his first two decisions and walked nine in his previous start against Division.
“It was one of the better starts he’s ever had,” Sanfilippo said. “He was really on point. Just firing strikes left and right, which he wasn’t able to do the previous week.”
Joe Estela went 2-for-2 with 3 RBIs at the plate that day and keyed the next day’s win by doubling and scoring the game’s only run on Kiernan Morgan’s single in the fifth. It was more than enough for Ye, who tossed the Spartans’ third straight three-hitter, striking out six in the process, to helped complete the sweep.
Valley Stream North and Lynbrook entered this week’s action tied for fourth in the conference, one-half game behind North Shore. The Spartans conclude their big three-game series with North Shore on Thursday.
Sanfilippo is hoping the offense, which is averaging just over three runs a game, finds more consistency down the stretch to ease the burden on the pitchers. Senior James Saracino is pacing the Spartans with a .370 average and Estela is just behind him at .368. Joe Gisonda has an on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) of 1.104, including a two-homer, 4-RBI day against East Rockaway on April 4.