MAHOPAC, N.Y.— It was no surprise that Mahopac’s resilient baseball team would respond after falling behind by two runs to visiting Yorktown in the second inning of the Section 1 Class AA quarterfinals on May 23.
Ninth-seeded Mahopac rallied for an 8-2 win over No. 16 Yorktown to advance the Indians to their first final four since 2005.
Not wasting any time to start the rally, the Indians put up two runs in the bottom half of the second when senior shortstop Pat McGee smashed a first-pitch lead-off triple to left.
“All it takes is one guy to get a big hit,” Mahopac coach Chris Miller said. “Pat got that triple and that took the pressure off everybody. It’s one of those things that’s contagious.”
Chris Montuoro’s RBI groundout and a grounder by Steven Daly that was bobbled helped Mahopac knot the game at 2-2.
Anthony Simeone gave them the lead after zipping a ground-ball past an off-balance third baseman to score McGee in the third.
“We have a good group of guys here,” Simeone said. “We all wanted it, the coaches wanted it. It’s something special for us especially against Yorktown to come back and prove them wrong.”
Since the early hiccup, starting pitcher Brian Murray dialed in to allow no more runs. The senior tossed six innings for two earned runs while striking out five batters.
“I knew that we would fight back,” Murray said. “Once we got the game tied, I just started fresh and got some swings and misses with my slider.”
The lineup took care of the rest during a monster fourth inning, as the Indians put up a five-spot to shatter Yorktown’s chances.
“Whether we are winning or losing, this squad keeps battling the whole game,” Miller said. “This team has been behind and we have come back to win games. We’ve been ahead and lost games. They recognize that it doesn’t matter and you keep battling through the entire game.”
Joe Usewicz’s RBI single scored senior Matt Merlini before the captain, McGee, smoked another triple to left field that plated two runs. Simeone added the exclamation point with a dipping two-run single to right field as Mahopac sailed to the finish line.
“I just realized that I don’t have much time left playing ball for this school,” McGee said. “I just want to make the most of my last few games.”
Senior closer Mark Trio fanned two hitters in his one-two-three seventh inning, and McGee notched three hits.
“It’s just chemistry,” Trio said. “A lot of us have been playing together since we’ve been 5. We are all brothers on and off the field. We always love each other’s company. We all just want to do it for each other.”
Mahopac (15-8) saw its bats freeze in an 8-0 defeat at White Plains in the semifinal last Wednesday.
The Indians trailed just 1-0 heading into a bottom of the fifth inning where the Tigers scored three runs before adding four in the sixth to ice it.
‘Pac only compiled five total hits, but hammered the ball for most of the match into some unfortunate spots. Senior Matt Montera crushed a ball to deep right but was robbed by the outfielder on a catch into the fence in the second inning.
“We were hitting it hard on their guy all over the place,” Miller said. “It was amazing how many hard-hit balls we had that just couldn’t find the ground.”
Starting pitcher John Ravoli threw 4.1 innings while striking out two hitters after surrendering a two-run single to make it a 3-0 deficit with the infield in during the fifth.
Anthony Simeone entered in relief to let up an RBI single in the fifth and allowed a two-run homer in the sixth before Trio came in.
During the top of the sixth, the Indians remained optimistic in the dugout before smacking a couple of liners that were both caught to start the inning. One was snagged on a full-extension dive by the center fielder in the right-center field gap and another was a laser beam shot right at the left fielder.
Despite the loss, the Indians managed their furthest playoff run in 12 years.
“This team really enjoyed each other and wanted to play hard for each other,” Miller said. “It was one of the few years we didn’t have that ‘superstar.’ It was more of a true team effort. It really had to be a collective unit to win. Because everybody knew they had to do their part, we were so successful in some of those close games.”