Upset City: Huskers Take Down North Rockland

Husker Matt Pupczyk pitches. Credits: Deena Bell

THIELLS, N.Y.— No. 16-seeded Yorktown won at No. 1 North Rockland 7-5 on May 20 in the opening round of the Section 1 Class AA baseball tournament.

“The win is big—no doubt,” Yorktown senior captain Jake Bichler said. “It was more of a confidence boost for the team than anything. We were able to pull it off because we had a bunch of guys step up in big spots and minimized damage when we needed it most.”

Bichler (3 for 3, 3 runs), Joe Veca (2 for 3, double, RBI, two runs) and Tanner Dyslin (2 for 4, double, 2 RBI) led the Huskers offensively.

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“We’ve all been working hard both during and after practice getting in extra swings,” Bichler said. “It was good to see it translate onto the field and it just so happens it came at the right time.”

Starting pitcher Matt Pupczyk scattered five hits, gave up four earned runs, struck out four and walked two in six innings to earn the win. Veca shut the door in the seventh for the save.

“The key to limiting North Rockland’s offense was just me focusing on hitting my spots and having a strong defense behind me,” Pupczyk said.

Yorktown defeated visiting No. 17 Ossining 6-1 in the outbracket round on May 18, led by Alby Ciufetelli (6 innings, 5 hits, no walks, 7 strikeouts).

“I pitched as well as I did because of the confidence given to me by my coaches and teammates, which allowed me to pitch my game and stay calm,” Ciufetelli said.

Veca put the Huskers up 2-1 with a two-run homer in the third.

“I was ahead in the count and I was sitting fastball. He left it up and I was able to drive it over (the fence),” Veca said. “I’ve hit others this year but none of them felt like this. It was a stress reliever to know that we had the lead and I think it loosened up the team.”

Ossining attempted to answer in the top of the fourth with a lead-off single but Ciufetelli induced the next batter to hit into a double play.

“After Joe gave us that lead, I knew I had to go out there and keep the lead and after the single I just worked down and hard to get a ground ball which got us the double play,” Ciufetelli said.

Yorktown (9-12-1) scored four big insurance runs in its half of the fourth.

“It was huge being ahead but in the playoffs one mistake can cost you,” Veca said. “Having those extra runs made us a little relaxed and we knew we just had to play solid defense and we’d be fine.”

Led by a complete-game effort with nine strikeouts from senior pitcher Matt Mikulski, No. 5 Lakeland defeated visiting No. 12 John Jay-Cross River 3-2 in the opening round of the Class A tournament on May 20.

“In the postseason I really try to bring it to another level and leave my heart on the field,” Mikulski said. “Coach was going to have to drag me off the mound today.”

Evan Berta’s two-out, two-run double in the fourth put Lakeland up 3-2.

“Once we got up 3-2, it was all up to me to close the door once we had the lead and I never looked back,” Mikulski said.

Center fielder Berta robbed a home run at the fence and Matt Tuite made a diving catch to preserve the lead in the sixth inning.

Lakeland beat host Yorktown 4-3 in the 36th Annual Sorrentino Cup to end the Huskers’ five-game winning streak in the contest on May 15.

“It’s nice to beat Yorktown, but at the end of the day it was just another regular-season game and we have to focus on performing in the playoffs and making a deep run,” Tuite said.

Tuite hit the go ahead two-out, two-run single in the sixth to put Lakeland ahead to stay 4-3.

“I went up to the plate looking to jump on the first fastball I got and drive it to the outfield,” Tuite said. “It always feels great getting a big hit late in the game and luckily the guys hitting before me gave me a chance to get that big hit.”

Lakeland’s Bryan Petriccione earned the win with 3.1 innings of scoreless relief.

“Bryan is a workhorse for us and has given us some great outings this year because he doesn’t try to do too much,” Tuite said.

Joe Vetrano (homer) and James Houlahan (2 hits, RBI) also contributed offensively for the Hornets (15-6).

Pupczyk allowed just three earned runs and struck out three in a complete-game effort for Yorktown in the game played in memory of Joseph Sorrentino Jr., a Yorktown athlete and star pitcher who passed away in 1981.

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