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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Section XI County Champions


Class A Bracket- Kings Park

On Wednesday, May 22, Kings Park High School was the first crowned Section XI County Champion. It only took three games for the Kingsmen (pictured) to win their first County Championship since 2010.

“It was a surreal moment,” said Anthony Altobelli, a Kingsmen senior. “We put in a lot of work and we knew we could do it. We felt like we deserved it.”

Kings Park entered the Class A playoffs as the first seed, giving them a bye in the first round. The top two seeds were given to the best teams in League VI and League VII. The Kingsmen finished with an 18-2 overall record (16-2 league record) that gave them the edge over the second-seed Bayport-Blue Point.

Their first matchup was against Miller Place who held the fifth seed. This was a familiar opponent as the two teams have faced each other three times during the regular season, all resulting in Kings Park wins. This trend continued as the Kingsmen won 2-0 to earn their first playoff victory.

Game two saw them take on the aforementioned Bayport-Blue Point in what would be their toughest opponent. The Kingsmen defeated the second seed 1-0, putting them one win away from being champions.

The playoffs were in double elimination style, which allowed Bayport-Blue Point to make their way back to the championship game. This also meant the Phantoms would have to beat Kings Park twice.

The Kingsmen left no doubt as they defeated Bayport-Blue Point in dominating fashion, 7-1, earning their seventh county title in school history. Senior starting pitcher Hunter Colagrande went six-and-one-third innings to propel the team to victory, bringing his record to 9-0 on the season.

“I was a little nervous at the start, but it was good to see the crowd; they fueled me,” Colagrande said. “It was a good feeling.”

It was a stellar performance from the Kingsmen who have displayed their dominance all season. Coach Andrew Abreu was a major part of that as he helped lead Kings Park to the county championship in his fifth year with the team, “This is a special place,” Coach Abreu said.

“This group is super close. There is no ego. To get the final one and see them pile on the field was the best feeling in the world.”
The Kings Park Kingsmen now look toward their next matchup. The Regional Finals take place on June 1 against the winner of the Section VIII Championship, Clarke High School.

“We’re only focused on the next game and not looking ahead past anything,” said Brandon Hauk, a Kingsmen senior. “But we’re going into it really confident.”

With hopes of winning a Long Island Championship, Kings Park High School will strive to play baseball the same way they have been all season. The Kingsmen have the talent, the brotherhood, the fan support, and the confidence to get it done.

Class AA Bracket- Hauppauge

Hauppauge baseball has put together an incredible season, and the success just keeps on coming. This past Sunday, May 26, the Eagles took home the Class AA County Championship title, an accomplishment nearly 25 years in the making.

The team’s last County Championship victory came in 2000, making this a monumental point in the school’s history. Hard-work and dedication brought the Eagles back to the big game, and earned them this victory.

Hauppauge finished the season with a 17-3 overall record and a 15-3 league record, good enough for first place in League V and the one seed in the Class AA playoffs.

The Eagles earned the bye for the round one and were set to play East Islip (fifth seed) for their first playoff game. It resulted in a 4-2 Hauppauge victory that included a two-run homerun by junior Michael Oliveto and a go-ahead double from senior Kevin Walker.

Matt Neglia led the way on the mound with six innings pitched, allowing only two runs and recording three strikeouts. John Margolies struck out the side in the seventh inning to earn the save. These two senior pitchers were crucial to the Eagles season and the County Championship run.

Round two saw another close game as Hauppauge took on Comsewogue. This one went into extra innings as Comsewogue put up a 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth inning.

The Eagles managed to win in dramatic fashion off a walkoff homerun from Oliveto that scored two. They demonstrated their determination and perseverance in this matchup to make them one win away from the County Championship title.

Comsewogue was the only team in their way as they made their way back to the championship. With the double elimination style in effect, Hauppauge had to lose twice.

Game one saw Comsewogue take a commanding 9-3 victory, seeming to have all the momentum. However, the Eagles weren’t about to give up the championship that easily.

They dominated the final game, earning a 14-4 win to seal the County Championship. Senior Vincent Crafa threw 3.1 innings and only allowed one run on two hits. Coach Josh Gutes then chose to use Margolies earlier than usual to secure a 2-1 lead.

The Eagles ended up scoring six runs in both the fifth and sixth inning to sit down any hope of a comeback. It was an amazing moment for Hauppauge baseball who has been working towards this all season.

“It’s everything,” Coach Gutes said. “It’s all we talked about all season long. This was the year, it felt different. It felt like we had all the ingredients to win a county championship. When we needed it most our guys came through. It’s an incredible feeling.”

The Eagles will take on Division next in the Regional Finals round. They don’t plan on slowing down as a Long Island Championship is in their grasp. Coach Gutes commented on their preparation for the incoming game.

“We’re getting live at-bats during our scrimmage and getting quality repetitions,” Coach Gutes said. “Focusing on being out there enjoying each other’s company and embracing the opportunity.”

Hauppauge will take the field on June 1 as they continue their historic run.

Class AAA Bracket- Commack

The Suffolk County Championship continues to run through one team. The Commack Cougars earned their fourth straight County Chip displaying their dominance over Long Island baseball.

After losing some key players last season, some people questioned if Commack would stay competitive. They finished the regular season with a 13-7 overall record and a 12-6 league record. This was enough to earn them the fourth seed in the playoffs, which gave them a difficult route to the championship.

Commack took the game and won in walkoff fashion. Junior Chris Messina hit a single in the last inning to win the game 5-4 and send the Cougars into the next round of the winner’s bracket.

Their next opponent was Walt Whitman who was fresh off an upset victory against the one seeded Connetquot. It was yet another close game with the Cougars coming out victorious. Senior Ryan Krzemienski led the way with nine strikeouts in seven innings.

Commack then took on the three seed, Sachem North, in round three. It took a 3-1 win that sent them to the championship.

Sachem North won their next game to put themselves back against Commack for the County title. They followed this with a 4-1 win against the Cougars that forced a winner-takes-all matchup on May 26.

One player Commack didn’t lose last season is Evan Kay. The returning senior broke a Long Island record last year throwing 60 scoreless innings. He hoped to bring over this success into the 2024 season and earn his third County Championship.

Kay did exactly that. He threw a complete game, allowing only one run to lead the Cougars to the 2-1 victory and the County Chip.

“I felt great on the mound,” Kay said. I’ve gotten to the point of trusting my pitches and ability to perform in big games and get out of tough spots. There was no better feeling than that last out.”

The Cougars will look to earn another Long Island Championship as they head on to the Regional Finals against Farmingdale. Kay and his teammates have high expectations.

“We know there’s still work to do because we want to achieve more than we have so far and get back to Binghamton,” Kay said. “The next challenge on that mission is this Saturday versus Farmingdale.”

James Haupt
James Haupt
James Haupt is The Messenger Papers' weekly Sports Reporter and Staff Writer, covering everything from local little leagues to professional sports teams. James is also a full-time college student at Villanova University majoring in Journalism.