Aquinas nets first-ever state baseball crown - Catholic Courier

Aquinas nets first-ever state baseball crown

This superb collection of baseball talent from Aquinas Institute packed plenty of offense, entering the state Final Four with 10 or more runs in two-thirds of its 21 wins. At that point, however, Coach Mark Magliocco impressed upon his team that their slugfests had likely ended.
 
"I told them, ‘We’re not going to get big scoring; we’re going to have to win on pitching and defense. The teams are too good to think you’re going to win big,’" Magliocco recalled.
 
His crew was obviously paying close attention.
 
Surrendering just two runs over 14 innings, Aquinas netted the school’s first-ever state baseball championship by capturing two games in a single day on June 13. The Little Irish won 4-1 over Mexico of Section 3 in an early-afternoon semifinal contest, then tacked on a 3-1 triumph over Westbury’s Clarke High School of Section 8 in the title matchup immediately following.
 
Little Irish pitcher Ray Kelly, a junior left-hander, came up big in the final, surrendering his lone run in the second inning and yielding just one hit from that point on as he tossed a four-hitter with eight strikeouts. Teammates Alan Komorowski provided timely hitting by driving in runs in the fourth and sixth innings.
 
"My mechanics were going well, and it worked out," said Kelly, a junior, who admitted to having been a bit nervous before the game.
 
Earlier on June 13 the dominant pitching belonged to Jed Lemen, a junior righty, who allowed just four hits and one unearned run against Mexico. Jalen Dennis led the AQ offense with a two-run double in the third inning.
 
Magliocco acknowledged that the Final Four’s doubleheader format made it vital for Aquinas to have two good arms.
 
"Our two pitchers were unbelievable throughout the playoffs," he said, adding that "we played great defense behind them." In fact, the Irish allowed a scant two runs and committed just two errors in their last four games beginning with their sectional final.
 
"That’s the way our team has been the whole year. We have the best fielders in the state, without a doubt. I trust every single one of them to make the out. It makes it a lot easier for me," said Kelly, who also threw a four-hitter in a 12-0 win over Grand Island of Section 6 in quarterfinal play on June 9.
 
Aquinas had made it to the states with a 4-0 victory over Pittsford Sutherland in the Section 5 Class A title game June 5. Lemen pitched a four-hitter, while Jim Buonaugurio and Christ Bostick each drove in two runs — Bostick on a two-run homer in the seventh inning. Sutherland, the No. 1 seed, was the four-time defending sectional champ and had beaten second-seeded AQ in last year’s final.
 
"It made the kids more hungry," Magliocco said of the rematch. "Once we beat Sutherland we thought, ‘Hey, we have a good chance to go all the way.’"
 
"Winning sectionals was big," Kelly agreed. "I don’t think anybody thought we could beat Sutherland, but we beat them pretty good, and in the states we kept riding that high."
 
In previous sectional games, the Irish won 20-1 over No. 15 Palmyra-Macedon in the first round, 14-3 over No. 10 Brighton in quarterfinal play, and — in their only true nail-biter of the post-season — 4-3 in 12 innings over No. 6 Eastridge in the semifinals.
 
Aquinas’ final overall record of 23-5 included 17 wins in its last 18 games, including a 10-game streak to end the year. Magliocco observed that his team can now proudly take its place alongside state champs in many other sports from Aquinas in recent years.
 
"I’m more happy for the kids. They deserved it; they played and practiced hard all year," Magliocco said.
 
"It feels great," Kelly added. "That’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

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