MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Mahopac senior starting pitcher Billy Moeller has been waiting for his chance, and he sure nailed it in Thursday’s Class AA outbracket playoff game versus No. 18-seeded Horace Greeley in a 4-1 victory for the host Indians.
Only pitching out of the bullpen last season, Moeller has blossomed into Mahopac’s top pitcher this year while keeping under the radar.
“All the hard work that I put in comes out to a good reward in the end,” Moeller said. “After my last outing, I didn’t want to end my senior year on that. So I had a chip on my shoulder to pitch well.”
His 10 strikeouts and two walks for an earned run and five hits over six innings did the trick in propelling Mahopac to the first round of sectionals. The workhorse even tossed 117 pitches using a fastball, changeup and curveball in his biggest outing yet.
“I felt like I had my best stuff today,” Moeller said. “It took me a couple of innings to find my curveball. Once I did, it was working for me. Mentally, I tried to get myself focused from the first pitch to the last.”
It was a rocky beginning though, as Moeller wiggled out of a one-out jam in the first inning after allowing runners to reach second and third base.
In the bottom of the first, shortstop Tom Krasniqi grounded an RBI single up the middle to draw first blood for No. 15 Mahopac.
The Indians tacked on another run in the second inning when Steven Daly tried to steal second base and was caught in a pickle. While Daly escaped and made it safely back to first base, Connor Stepkoski bolted home to score from third base to double the lead.
An opposing batter barely beat out a grounder to Krasniqi in the third inning, allowing a run to come in from third to make it 2-1.
The Quakers had runners on second and third base earlier in the frame before senior second baseman Anthony Simeone snagged a line drive and trotted over to step on second for the double-play.
A few innings of brilliance from Moeller and lack of hitting from both sides ensued until the bottom of the fifth, when junior first baseman Kyle Brandstetter roped an RBI double down the right-field line with two outs to give the Indians a 3-1 lead.
Providing even more breathing room was Anthony Caminitti, who flared an RBI single that dropped into left field to hand Mahopac a three-run edge.
In the top of the sixth, Moeller surrendered a lead-off base-hit before getting the next hitter to ground out into a double play.
The ball was bounced to Simeone, who flipped to Krasniqi for a rocket throw to Brandstetter, whose stretch at first base was textbook as the umpire called the runner out. The next batter flew out as junior right-handed pitcher Anthony Volpicella took the seventh-inning.
He gave up a bloop-single to the leadoff batter as the Quakers began to feel the rally. But Volpicella settled down, striking out the next hitter swinging. Then, the defensive trio did it once again when Simeone fielded a one-hopper before tossing to Krasniqi, who threw low as Brandstetter made a beautiful stretch to end it.
“We’ve expected this (success) from our team all year long,” Mahopac coach Myckie Lugbauer said. “I’m excited to see them clicking at the right time and I still have faith in these guys that if we play the way we did today, that we can make a run.”
Mike Musantry doubled, singled and stole a base. Dylan Brehm, Stepkoski and Simeone singled in the triumph.
“We’re all a bunch of really great guys,” Moeller said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to end my high-school baseball career with. We all battle and we worked together to have a great outcome like this.”
The Indians (8-14) fell to second-seeded White Plains 4-2 on Monday, May 21, to end their season.