Prep Baseball Report

Long Island Look In: West Islip 5, Ward-Melville 1

Vinny Messana
PBR-NY Contributor

Plenty of obstacles have stood in the way of West Islip this season. To this point, none have been able to hinder their success.

Despite graduating a number of impact seniors last year, losing a top player to season-ending injury, dealing with two other playoff teams in their own league and now facing one of the top pitchers in the county in Ben Brown, they have passed every challenge with flying colors.

They won two of three form No. 1 seed Ward Melville, 5-1, behind a complete game gem from Tom Gatto to advance to the finals where they will face No. 2 Commack.

"We just bear down and listen to coach and play our game," said Gatto. "We play a small game, get our runs in and bear through," he added.

They got on the board in the first inning against Brown, who fought some control issues off the bat. A leadoff walk to Brandon Isolano, a misplayed bunt attempt, an an RBI single by Greg Tsouprakos got them an early 1-0 lead.

Gatto set the first six batters down, and his offense went back to work in the second inning.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Tsouprakos drew a walk to extend the lead to 2-0 and the ensuing batter, Anthony Ippolitto hit a parachute down the left field line to score two runs and open up a 4-0 lead.

Brown settled in during the middle innings and the Patriots got on the board in the sixth when clean up batter Kyle Rafferty smoked a lead off double, moved to third on a sac bunt and scored on a controversial balk. After the call, the umpires met at home plate for several minutes interpreting the rule but the run would ultimately stand.

The Lions added an insurance run in the fifth on an RBI single by pinch hitter Frank Genise to increase the lead to 5-1.

That was more than enough for Gatto, who retired the final six batters after Rafferty's double to send his team into the next round.

He noted that despite the high-intensity, he worked on managing his nerves and staying calm in the big moment.

It certainly worked, as the Lions return to the Class AA championship, looking to return to the Long Island Championship.