Long Island MABL, 35+ Division

Astros 10, Spartans 7

Submitted by Frank Parisi, Astros manager

Last week the Astros won a tough 10-7 game and clinched the best of three series for the 2020 summer championship. The win earned the Astros back to back championships for the first time. Congratulations!

The game was a microcosm of the entire series. A total grind from the first pitch where both teams kept throwing haymakers and no one would quit. Hats off to the Spartans for their performance throughout the series. Out of 27 innings played, the Spartans went down in order only three times. Heck of an effort and we are sure to be battling you guys again in the future.

The Astros lineup was just as tough. Sheridan, Norris and Visco all had three hits each, propelling the offense for the day. Joe Reznick, Vin”Luca Brazi” Lucarelli and Scott “It’s Miller time” Miller had multiple RBI games.  Joe Lankford, after pitching the day before, started the game and gutted out almost seven innings of high intensity baseball. Our bulldog really impressed by only giving up two earned runs to a very tough lineup. It is nice when the whole team comes together and contributes with some late inning heroics.

In the seventh inning Christian “Aggie” Aguilera surprised everyone by stealing home to give us a one run lead we would never relinquish. In the top of the eighth, Ryan Csoka made a great catch in center to shut down a Spartan rally and keep the score where it was. Lucarelli’s great eighth inning AB and 2-RBI hit gave us some much-needed breathing room. Mick Sheridan’s shut down relief work really tamed that Spartan lineup to earn the save. This series was exactly like the 2020 season, where the whole roster contributed and every player was ready when their number was called.

The beginning of the year did not look as promising. With all the restrictions and world happenings, it was amazing that we were able to even get our season in at all. It’s a credit to all involved for all the hard work it took to get it done. A big thanks from us. It is also a credit to the Astros players because all that off-season work seemed to pay immediate dividends and every week there was a different hero. Early in the season, Vinnie Pica pitched two gems and got a game winning hit on top of that to help get the team off to a good start. Elmer Cruz, returning from a year’s absence, jumped right into the thick of things by swinging a hot bat and even got a walk off hit of his own. He played solid third base and caught a few innings when we needed.

Tim Schenk gave us some much-needed innings and Willie Morales was our hitting machine off the bench and late game weapon. By mid-season, Pat Smith, Richie Simon, Phil Baldwin and Mick Sheridan all started raking and suddenly our lineup looked much different.  Consistent and professional hitters like Joe Reznick, Scot Miller, Vin Lucarelli, Omar Norris and Christian Aguilera really paved the way. It became very tough to keep a short lineup and even tougher because players like Rob Halasy and Elias Manolis seemed to get a hit every chance they got. Heck, even our pitchers like Tim Schenk were joining in on the fun by hitting bombs when his number was called. So, by end of the season we liked our chances in the playoffs.

Hitting wins games but pitching and defense win championships. Our outfield combo of Csoka, Lucarelli, Norris and Smith were a defensive advantage because they can run down and catch almost anything. Ryan Csoka really played Gold Glove in center field all year and had eight assists.  Incredible! Our middle infield of Greg Visco at short and Patrick O’donnell at second made all the plays and flashed a web gem from time to time. The first base combo of Reznick and Simon anchored the infield with some web gems of their own. Our catching duo of Rob Halasy and Phil Baldwin really guided our pitching staff through a successful season.

Our ace Joe Lankford led the team in wins, ERA, strikeouts and complete games and always stepped up when we needed him. Joe “Lank” Lankford is our quiet leader who lifts the team and teammates with a bulldog mentality and fierce competitiveness. But this year he did not have to do it all by himself. Vin Pica pitched well early and Christian Aguilera and Mick Sheridan really raised their games in the playoffs by pitching lights out.

A few guys had great seasons from start to end. Greg Visco hit over .500 and played stellar shortstop in an incredible year. Omar Norris “Mr. Consistent” hit well over .400 and played a great right field all year long.  Scot “Miller Time” Miller was a force in the middle of a lineup that never let up. Mick Sheridan became our three-hole hitter and once again established himself as a top pitcher. Christian Aguilera kept getting better and better as the year went along and even stole home in the final championship game. Vin Lucarelli swung a hot bat from beginning to end of the season. Lastly, Joe Lankford, our number five hitter and Ace of staff stepped up as our team captain.

I not only had some great players but an outstanding staff as well.  Our bench and third base coach Billy Peck is one of the main reasons we were as successful as we were this year. His on-field knowledge and demeanor set the tone for the entire club. Special thanks also goes out to coaches Billy Burke and Eric Brady. They did a lot of the little things that often get overlooked. We are already getting ready for next season. Lots of good teams out there!  We’re looking forward to 2021.