(Pictured above) Commack Cougars celebrate after winning the County championship (Photo Credit – Jacob Infald)

It was an exciting weekend of Long Island baseball that saw three familiar faces crowned champions. Kings Park, Commack, and Hauppauge followed up their County Championship wins with an even more impressive milestone. Each team earned a Long Island Championship victory this past Saturday, June 1, etching their name in their school’s history.

Balk-Off for Kings Park

For Kings Park, baseball runs deep within its roots as it’s the home of Hall of Famer Craig Biggio. Despite this, the 2024 Kingsmen have arguably made themselves the most influential team in the school’s history.

This was just their second Long Island Championship win in school history, but their first in the Class A division. They previously won in Class B in 2001.

The Kingsmen (pictured above) took on Clarke (Westbury) in a competitive Long Island Championship matchup. Their dominant pitching was on display again in this one, with senior Hunter Colagrande throwing seven innings, allowing only one run.

Unfortunately, Clarke managed to hold Kings Park to one run as well, resulting in extra innings. This was a familiar scene for the Kingsmen who have been part of many close games and pitcher duels throughout the season. Staying focused in the moment has been a huge part of their success.

After a scoreless eighth inning, a Clarke senior roped a double in the top of the ninth to take the lead. The Kingsmen wouldn’t give up that easily, as junior Vincenzo Buffolino hit a game-tying RBI single in the bottom half of the ninth. They now had a chance to walk it off and take home the championship title.

A new pitcher came in for Clarke to try to shut Kings Park down and continue the game. However, on the first pitch of the at-bat, the field umpire made a controversial balk call that would end the game. It allowed the runner on third to score without a pitch being thrown.
It was a balk-off for the Kingsmen who were stunned at the final call.

“It was a crazy way to end the game,” said Colagrande. “Before the ball even reaches the plate, we’re like ‘wow we just won.’ It was just a delayed reaction and then everybody exploded.”

The exciting finish sends Kings Park to Binghamton to compete for a state championship this weekend. Their next matchup is the semifinals against Pittsford-Sutherland on June 7. If the Kingsmen win that game, they will advance to the state finals.

“We’re going to do what we’ve been doing all season,” Colagrande said. We know we can handle business up there. We have a good chance at this.”

Historic Day in Hauppauge

The Kings Park victory marked the first Suffolk County team crowned Long Island Champion on the weekend. The next game lined up for the day was between Hauppauge High School and Division (Levittown) in the Class AA bracket.

Hauppauge was coming off their first County Championship since 2000 with hopes of a new accomplishment. The Eagles were in search of their first-ever Long Island Championship. After a hard-fought battle, they earned this title with a 4-3 victory.

“We’ve been close a few times before,” said Coach Josh Gutes. “To get over the hump and win this game in the way that we did, and against a team with the history they have, is unbelievable. This is something that decades later, everybody will look back on.”

The game was highlighted by a complete game from senior pitcher Matt Neglia. He allowed one run in the first inning, but shut Division down until the end. The Eagles then managed to record four runs on five hits to take a commanding 4-1 lead.

The Eagles (pictured above – photo credit Anthony DeModna) held a 4-2 lead, just three outs away from history. Coach Gutes chose to keep his ace in for the last inning to take the championship home.

Neglia managed to get two outs before facing off with Division’s Matt Bolton with one runner on. In what was a crucial moment in the game, Bolton almost managed to tie it up as he ripped a double to right field that just barely stayed in the ballpark. This brought in a run making it a 4-3 game.

Coach Gutes intentionally walked what marked the winning run for Division to make it a force play at all bases. A wild pitch put this plan in danger as the winning run now stood at second with the only force being at first.

It was Neglia’s game to win, and he came through, forcing a ground ball to third that secured Hauppauge’s first-ever Long Island Championship.

The players, coaches, and fans were excited to celebrate history for their school. Coach Gutes described the atmosphere for their victory.

“It felt like the entire community was there,” Coach Gutes said. “We felt it there on the field.”

The Eagles (pictured above – photo credit Anthony DeModna) now look on to Binghamton as they try to make even more history and earn a state title. They will face Victor on June 7 for their semi-final matchup.

Repeat Champions

With two Suffolk County teams already victorious, Commack was hungry for what would be their second Long Island Championship victory in a row.

The Cougars entered this season in the newly formed Class AAA division. They went up against the biggest schools on Long Island, giving them some tough competition. This resulted in a challenging route to their fourth county championship in three years.

Commack wanted to repeat as Long Island Champions as well and make their way back to Binghamton. The only obstacle in their way was Farmingdale High School.

The Cougars took care of business, earning a 2-1 victory to earn their third Long Island Championship in four years.

This game was highlighted by yet another stellar pitching performance from senior Evan Kay who threw a complete game with 11 strikeouts, and allowing only one run. His run support came from RBI singles from senior Dean Vincent in the first and eighth-grade catcher Robbie Mascia in the fifth.

Commack’s victory made it three Long Island Champions from Suffolk County. In fact, the three winners are all neighboring hamlets as the talent continues to develop in this area.

The gritty performance for the repeat champions puts them in a match up against Fairport in their semi-final round this Friday, June 7. They hope to achieve something new this year with a potential chance at their first state championship in program history.

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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.