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Haas & Liotine Keep Baseball on the Winning Side

May 3, 2011

Liotine (shown taking 3rd vs. Port Jeff) is as tough as they come

After losing the first 8 games of the season the last thing our baseball team seemed destined for was a winning streak; however, thanks to the heroics of Ryan Haas and Donnie Liotine the blue and white won its 2nd straight game in thrilling fashion yesterday afternoon, 3-1 over visiting Greenport.

Through the first 3 innings neither defense flinched as the game remained deadlocked at 0-0.  The Porters finally broke through in the top of the 4th with a single followed by a deep drive that soared over the heads of our outfielders.  It looked as though the shot would be an inside-the-park home run until a perfect relay throw from Will McEvoy and a courageous block at the plate by catcher Pablo Celis prevented the 2nd run from scoring.  8th-grader Dan Colasanto settled down after the jarring knock and showed some toughness on the mound before being relieved by Jerome Washington.

The Bears had their chances to equalize, including having a runner on 2nd with 1 out in the bottom of the 4th, but failed to light up their side of the scoreboard, that is, until Haas came to bat in the bottom of the 6th.  Still trailing 1-0 the Brook was in dire need of a big play and the prodigious cut of Haas once again provided the blow the team needed.  The 1st baseman came through with a 2-run single that vaulted the boys into the lead.  After they tacked on another run in the 6th the Brook took a 3-1 edge into the final inning.

The Bears found trouble almost immediately in the top of the 7th and once again the services of Liotine were called upon to close out the game.  There are few scenarios tougher for a closer to enter than runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs, but if you know Donnie Liotine at all you know he is not accustomed to backing down from challenges.  The steely nerves of the sophomore closer were on full display as he struck out the 1st batter he faced, plunked the next one to load the bases then sat the next batter down with a pop up, leaving the Bears 1 out away from a winning streak.  With the tying run on 2nd base Liotine came through for the 2nd time in as many games, striking out his east end adversary to give the boys another exciting victory.

Washington was the winning pitcher and Liotine recorded his 2nd save of the season.

Victory Turns into Defeat in Stony Brook

Entering the bottom of the sixth inning, Coach John Musmacker had no reason to think that his Stony Brook School baseball team would solve Greenport right-hander Mark Pagano on Monday. Until then, Pagano had hurled a masterpiece, having surrendered but one hit, facing only four batters over the minimum and striking out five of his last six batters.

“The way he was going, I did think he was going to dominate,” Musmacker said. “The kid was really, really good.”

As it turned out, the Bears turned out to be better in the sixth, rallying for three runs in what turned into a 3-1 victory over Greenport in a Suffolk County League VIII game. It was Stony Brook’s second consecutive triumph after going three years without a win. The Bears (2-8, 2-8) had broken the streak with an 11-9 victory over Southold on Friday.

“They are in an adjustment period right now,” Musmacker said of his team. “They are learning how to win.”

Greenport Coach Mike Reed, who does not like to lose, was in no mood to talk and refused to speak to the media afterwards. He said he was angry with his team’s performance. Reed did not like what he had witnessed, which included losing the lead, having players thrown out trying to advance an extra base four times and the lack of clutch hitting. In the seventh, the Porters (4-6, 4-8) had runners on second and third with no outs and loaded the bases with one out, but could not score.

That was after Stony Brook staged its rally against Pagano, who was virtually unhittable, allowing only Ryan Haas’ second-inning single until then while striking seven and hitting two batters. He threw 89 pitches in the game.

But the Bears found a way to get to Pagano. Pablo Celis and Don Liotine both singled to right before a wild pitch moved them over. Haas laced a single to center to drive in two runs, giving Stony Brook a 2-1 lead. After striking out two more batters, Pagano allowed a triple to left-center field by Dan Colasanto to drive in the final run.

“We strung together two or three really good at-bats in the bottom of the sixth,” Musmacker said. “It wasn’t because of [Pagano] not battling. He did a really good job. I didn’t think the kid lost anything. I thought he was as good in the sixth inning as he was in the first inning.”

Greenport made it interesting in the top of the seventh as Anthony Nichols singled and Sean Charters doubled, prompting Musmacker to pull reliever and winning pitcher Jerome Washington for Liotine. The right-hander struck out Austin Hooks and loaded the bases by hitting Harley Britt. But Liotine got out of the jam by inducing Brian Tuthill to pop up to him and Pagano to ground out to second.

The Porters played aggressive baseball and they sometimes paid for it. They had runners thrown out at second, third and home. Pagano was gunned down trying to steal third base after he stole second in the first inning. Charters was picked off by Colasanto, the Bears’ starter, after reaching second in the second. Michael Reed was tagged out at home trying for a triple after driving in Shawn Hansen (single) in the fourth. Reed was thrown out trying to steal second in the sixth and Bryant Rivas was retired, attempting to advance from first base on a wild pitch a batter later.

Celis, a converted shortstop playing only his second game at catcher, threw out both runners in the sixth.

“I was lucky because the ball bounced off the fence,” he said on one of his throws on the wild pitch. “I felt really good throwing that guy out. I felt comfortable behind the plate.”

Musmacker said he has been looking for the right combinations.

“Just through trying different things, trying people at different positions, finding the right place for each player,” he said. “It turned out that our shortstop was probably a better fit for us behind the plate.”

The Porters will have another opportunity to test Celis’ right arm and Stony Brook as they will host Bears on Wednesday before returning here on Friday for the third and final game of the series.

~ The Suffolk Times



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