Garden City High School's varsity baseball team saw their season and their playoff run come to an end Thursday, when they suffered their second straight loss to Rockville Centre's red-hot South Side High School in the Nassau A quarterfinals.
Garden City's Trojans had moved into the second round after a thrilling walk-off victory over Lynbrook, but they couldn't beat third-seeded South Side High School, which came into the quarterfinals on a streak of 11 straight victories including a first-round playoff win over Bethpage.
On Wednesday, it was the Trojans cruising to an early 10-2 lead only to see it disappear when South Side delivered a 12-run inning to jump out in front and take a 1-0 series lead over GC. It wasn’t the type of performance that Coach Rich Smith was looking for in a playoff game as the Trojans played an uncharacteristically poor defensive game that allowed South Side to take the victory.
Down 1-0 in the best of three series on Thursday, the GC boys had their backs to the wall and needed an outstanding team effort to climb back into the series. They received a stellar pitching performance from sophomore David Butler and a very strong defensive effort from the entire lineup with each of the three outfielders cutting down runners on the base paths.
Lefty Butler kept South Side off balance for seven innings with a biting curve and a good fastball. Showing the poise of a veteran, Butler’s best came in the top of the seventh as he worked out of a bases-loaded jam with only one out to give GC some hope for late heroics.
Left fielder Rich D’Angelo and centerfielder Danny Muller each nailed runners at the plate, and right fielder Andrew LoBasso cut down a runner at second and made a leaping catch in right centerfield to save an extra base hit. Catcher Matt Packman not only applied the two tags at the plate but also threw out the only steal attempt at second base, while second baseman Dan Sparacino put the tag on two of the runners trying to advance.
The problem for Garden City was that they were facing a dominant Christian Colletti, who was on the mound for South Side. UConn-bound Colletti held the Trojans hitless through six innings. His only blemish came in the first inning as Danny Muller reached first base on a passed ball with two outs and ultimately, came around to score on a throwing error. Once out of the first, Colletti appeared to get stronger as the game went on as he fanned nine batters before turning the ball over to Louis Matarazzo to close out the game. The Trojans were able to get their first hit in the bottom of the seventh but couldn’t push the tying run across the plate.
For Garden City the loss closes out a solid season that ends too early for a group of players who have been working hard since last Fall. The good news is that the squad is relatively young and they will look to build upon this season next year.