Long Island MSBL, 18+ Joe Luparello Division
Long Island Sundevils 5, Franklin Square Seminoles 4 (Game two of championship series sweep)
‘Sundevils Walk it Off on McVetty Knock’
Submitted by Mike Schippell, Sundevils manager
August 7, 2022-The Sundevils have been in the Long Island MSBL/MABL for over 26 years. I have been with them for 25 of those and it has been an amazing run. Todd Lefkowitz started the team but had to step down a few years ago due to other commitments. Jerry Belfiore took it over for two years to keep it going and now I am at the helm. Last year I realized it was just too hard for us to recruit new 35 and older players in that division so I decided to drop us to the 18-over bracket and bring in my son, along with some of the boys I coached and some he had played with.
Last year was a struggle, but this year we added three or four players to put us over the top. We had a great season, going 20-6 including the playoffs. We had three key players all year, beginning with pitcher Joe Murphy. I would say that in my 27 years in this league, I have never seen a more dominant pitcher. He had games with 16, 17, 17, and 19 k’s. He was simply unhittable. He carried us through the season and playoffs.
AJ Cain is a 2-way player and is a legitimate 5-tool player. You do not often see that. His offense, defense, and relief pitching were so consistent throughout the season.
The addition of our catcher Jake Ourvan was huge for us. He caught 23 of our 25 games and was solid both behind the dish and at the plate. Of course, Cliff Miller was our workhorse as usual. At 48 years old, he just keeps winning big games year after year.
The fun part of it all is we have about seven guys under 23 and seven or eight over 50. We all complement each other so well. The older guys love to try and teach and by example, and the young guys seem to soak it up.
The semifinals of the playoffs pitted us against Gotham, the #1 seed. Game one was a crazy game. We went up 22-2 and were coasting but the game ended up 22-19! Fortunately, game two was more normal and we won handily, 5-3.
In game one of the championship series against the Seminoles, Murphy just dominated and we won 7-0. But the game two clincher was settled in a more dramatic fashion. Todd, the Seminoles pitcher, pitched his heart out. He struck out 18 of us and had a 4-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth.
Our #9 hitter, Brian Bond, who is the longest-tenured player on the Sundevils having played for 26 years while driving three hours each way from Pennsylvania, led off the bottom of the ninth with an infield single. Mike Zampino then doubled down the right field line to make it runners at first and third. Matt Dono then walked to load them up.
AJ then hit an infield single and his brother, Joe Cain followed with another infield single to tie the game at four apiece, with nobody out. EJ Mcvetty, who lives in Florida now but came up a few times during the season to make himself eligible, hit a soft looping single to right to walk it off! It was very exciting and emotional.
To personally get to win a championship as a player/coach and do it while playing with my son was really special. You can’t ask for any more than that. Our team is made up of guys who make a lot of sacrifices and commitments to be a part of the Sundevils. We are a family and always will be. Going back over all the years, I am filled with a lot of memories and have made many great friends.
Thanks again to every member of the Sundevils for making this year truly special!