Clippers make playoffs for fourth consecutive year
BY ANDRES RIVAS
As mentioned last week, the Bellport Clippers were 8-10, needing to win their last two games to make playoffs and so they did, defeating Comsewogue and Hills West.
After a rough 2-7 start, the Clippers looked forward to keeping that playoff streak alive and extend it to four, which is the largest streak by a current Bellport High School sports team, tied with basketball.
Last Wednesday, the Bellport varsity baseball team faced Comsewogue, against whom they were 2-1, scoring 35 runs and allowing 10. The coaches, just like two weeks ago, put the ball in the hands of Brennan Beatrice and he didn’t disappoint, pitching a complete game, allowing four runs and striking out six as the Clippers won 6-4. The Warriors got ahead with a two-run shot in the first inning. In the top of the third inning, Bellport grabbed the lead. First, Carson Nagle drew a walk; next, Will Romano got a single. Ryan Baumann made it a tie game with a two-RBI double. Trevor Virno made it a 3-2 game with an RBI single. In the top of the sixth inning, the Clippers got some insurance with a two-RBI single by Romano.
They extended that lead with an RBI double from Anthony Jacabacci. In the bottom of the sixth, the home team made it a two-run game once again, and had the tying run on base in the bottom of the seventh inning, but Andrew Veit made two great plays at short and Ryan Kane covered some ground for the final out. With this win, the Clippers had seven victories in their last 10 games and needed just one more to ensure a spot in the playoffs.
In their way stood a 15-4 Hills West team, who were 8-1 on the road and had already defeated the Clippers 5-0 last Monday. The Clippers entered at 9-10 with a 5-4 record at home for their annual senior game. They wanted to make it one to remember.
Coaches put the ball in the hands of Virno and after a 1-2-3 first inning, the Clippers got it going from the start. Romano and Jacabacci got singles and Baumann got them their first run of the game; after Virno got hit by a pitch, Beatrice made it 2-0 with an RBI single. Rafael Vargas made it a 3-0 game with a sacrifice fly and Veit had an RBI single. Hills West got one back in the bottom of the second. In the bottom of the third, Vargas extended the lead with an RBI single. In the top of the fifth inning, the Colts chipped the lead little by little, making it a 5-4 game. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Justin Maler had an RBI single with the bases loaded to make it 6-4.
In the top of the sixth inning, panic was striking the crowd and the Clippers’ dugout. Hills West got a few singles and took the lead 7-6, but that lead was temporary. Maler once again got a single to kick off the bottom of the sixth and Veit followed through with a single as well. Romano made it a tie game with an RBI hard-hit ball to the shortstop. Both teams failed to score in the seventh inning. Three up and three down for both teams in the eighth inning. In the top of the ninth, Hills got a leadoff walk, but an unassisted double play by Beatrice shifted the momentum back to the Clippers.
Kane got hit by the first pitch he saw to start the ninth and Jacabacci got a single. Baumann lined out on a hard-hit ball to the shortstop. Virno drew a walk after seven pitches, and there was bases loaded with two outs for Beatrice. After falling behind 0-2, he worked the count to 1-2, and on the fifth pitch he saw it was a single to right field and the Clippers did the unthinkable — winning eight of their last 10 games to ensure a spot in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. Romano finished 2-5 with an RBI, Jacabacci 3-6 with two runs scored and two stolen bases, Baumann 2-5 with two runs scored and an RBI single, Virno 1-2 with a HBP, two walks and a run scored. Maler was 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored, Veit 3-5 with an RBI, and Beatrice 2-5 with two RBIs.
In a pitchers’ duel this past Saturday, No. 17 Bay Shore defeated No. 16 Bellport, 5-2. Bay Shore took a 1-0 lead in the third inning with an RBI single; in the fifth inning they capitalized on a few mistakes by the Clippers’ defense to extend the lead to 3-0. Bellport got one back with a solo HR by Will Romano in the bottom of the sixth. Bay Shore also took two more in the top of the seventh. Things started to get interesting to start the bottom of the seventh. Veit had a walk and scored on an RBI double by Kane. After consecutive hits by Romano and Jacabacci, the Clippers had bases loaded with one out, but a strikeout and a groundout ended the season for the Clippers, who should keep their heads high after winning eight of their last 10 games, ensuring a spot in playoffs for the fourth year in a row.
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