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Despite Great Effort, Mineola Baseball Swept At Home By Valley Stream North

Mustangs drop two heartbreakers to conference rival as part of three game sweep

For six innings, two days running, Mineola had Valley Stream North (VSN) right where they wanted them, either tied or winning outright on their home field. In high school baseball they play seven innings, and that proved to be a problem for the Mustangs.

Over a rain-soaked 24 hours, Mineola fell to the Spartans, 5-4 on Wednesday, April 25 and 3-1 on Thursday, April 26. The losses came on the heels of a 3-1 loss at VSN on Tuesday, putting the Mustangs at 3-8, and their playoff hopes in serious jeopardy.

Mineola will probably need to sweep third place Seaford and hope VSN does the same to them right after, if the Mustangs hope to enter postseason play.

Pitching is certainly not the problem. Scott Berger was having trouble locating his secondary pitches on Wednesday, but still gave Mineola three shutout innings. That allowed his team to carry a 4-1 lead into the final frame, as run scoring hits by Nick Cerame and Anthony Riccardi in the first stood up…for a while.

A two-run double by Joe Vasquez brought VSN within one in the seventh. Mineola reliever John Lusardi tried to close things out, but a Riccardi error allowed the tying run to score, and a Brandon Salem sac fly put the visitors ahead.

“[Lusardi] got the ground ball, we didn’t make the play, other than that it’s probably a tie game,” Mineola coach Helms Bohringer said.

Craig Weber led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, but the next three batters were retired, as VSN pulled out a win.

It was a similar refrain on Thursday. This time, both teams took the pitching up a notch, as Mineola’s Vinny Bieniek and VSN’s Anthony Martelli both went the distance. Bieniek struck out 11 while walking only two, and Martelli fanned 13 on the day.

VSN first baseman Pio Bonfitto opened the scoring with a solo home run in the second, and Mustangs third baseman Tommy Breslin tied it with a double in the third.  Bieniek worked his magic, stranding Spartan baserunners in scoring position in four straight innings. But with two outs and two strikes in the seventh, Martelli took matters into his own hands, crushing a two-run homer over the leftfield wall to make it 3-1.

“[Vinny] matched [Martelli] strikeout for strikeout, anytime the defense didn’t do its job or he gave up a hit, he got out of the inning…he pitched as good a game as I’ve seen in a longtime from a Mineola pitcher,” Bohringer said.

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, back-to-back hits by Lusardi and Bienick put the tying runs on, but Breslin flied out to end it, as Martelli completed his gem for the win.

It’s a game of inches, and those inches seem like yards with a young team, according to Bohringer.

“We’re probably going to make the mistake when it’s not a good time to [do so],” he said.

“Is it frustrating? No, if it was from lack of effort, I’d be disappointed, but we work hard.”

And they’ll have to continue to do so to turn those yards back to inches, and those tough losses into well-earned victories.