Manhasset Battles to Postseason

Sophia Vlahakis, Editor-in-Chief, News and Sports

Perhaps the season did not go as planned, but the Manhasset baseball team ended up where it wanted to be and where it should be, clinching a playoff spot on the last game of the season.

With persistent injuries throughout the season, Manhasset had a 5-10 Nassau Conference A3 record entering the series against Lynbrook over May 9-11. Needing to win two out of the three games to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Indians were ready to contend, as they’re no strangers to affliction and mischance.

“With the character that [we] showed throughout the season in the face of adversi- ty, I had no doubt that they would get the job done,” said coach Mark Giardino.

In the series opener, Theo Zacharia pitched six scoreless innings to propel the Indians to a 7-3 victory. The first run came on a sac fly from Jake Moss to score Landon Kissell in the third inning. A four-run rally initiated by a single from Noah Rubin came in the fifth inning, with an RBI single from Zacharia, Trey Zaffiro’s bases-loaded walk, and a double from Michael Waltos that sent two runners home.

Another hit from Rubin in the sixth inning served as a catalyst for the offense. Rubin scored off a sac fly from Kissell, and a two-out RBI single from Moss scored Zacharia, who had doubled.

Manhasset lost the second game 6-2, putting the Indians in a must-win situation as they returned to their home ballpark on Senior Night, May 11.

Despite giving up a run in the first inning, Manhasset wasted no time getting the lead. With the bases loaded via walks, two runs scored on an erratic throw that also moved Devin Sheridan to third base, allowing him to score off a single from Brendan Trotta. In the third inning, Waltos’ two-run single scored Rubin and Peter Murphy to make the score 5-2.

The visiting Owls tied it in the top of the sixth. In the bottom half, Jack Bellucci, pinch running for Waltos—who had singled— made his way to third base, where a bunt from Zacharia helped the Indians take a temporary lead before Lynbrook came back to tie the game at six in the top of the seventh inning.

Needing just one run to secure a play-in game, it was an all-or-nothing scenario, but if there is anything to be said about Manhasset baseball, it’s that the team is always all in.

“Despite what our record showed, what our record was, we have played hard every single day,” commented Giardino. “We have never given up and we will never give up.”

That was certainly the mind set as the bot- tom of the seventh inning began with Rubin hustling to beat out the throw to first base. Mark DeGaudenzi, in as a pinch runner, proceeded to steal second, and advanced to third when he was hit by a throw intended to pick him off. Then came the classic walk off moment: a towering hit to center field by Trotta that seized the playoff berth the Indians deserved. Moss picked up the win in relief.

On May 14, when the 16th-seeded Indians faced 17th-ranked Mineola for a Class A play- in game, they proved they are playoff bona fides with a 8-5 win. The runs came on singles from Zacharia and Trotta that each scored two runs, RBI singles from Mikey Brunetti and Waltos, and bases-loaded walks from Zaffiro and Rubin.

It took a lot of grit to overcome the challenges along the way, but the character of this team, which Giardino is quick to spotlight, earned Manhasset its rightful place in the postseason.

“They never give up. They have not doubted themselves or each other. They show trust and we have energy every day. They deserve it,” Giardino said.