Hauppauge baseball team reaches Class AA state championship game

BINGHAMTON – When everything falls apart, the Hauppauge baseball team finds a way to put it back together.

The Eagles are a resilient team, and that was evident on Friday night in the state Class AA semifinals at Binghamton University.

After watching his team fall behind by a run in the top of the sixth inning, freshman Kyle Magill hit a two-out single to right field in the bottom of the eighth inning to give Hauppauge a 4-3 walk-off victory over Victor (Rochester) on a rainy evening in New York's Southern Tier.

The 14-year-old left-hander with the soft swing – who also hit an RBI single in the sixth inning to tie the game with two outs – was harassed at first base in a dogpile after sending the Eagles (22-4) into the Class AA state championship game against Bethlehem (18-5) on Saturday afternoon at Mirabito Stadium in Binghamton.

“We always find a way,” Hauppauge manager Josh Gutes said. “That's what we do. We get the job done from one through nine in our batting order. Kyle went there with a plan and hit his pitch.”

Magill hit a 0-and-1 curveball and hit a clean single into right field.

“I had to make it,” said Magill, the seventh batter in the lineup who had three hits and three RBIs. “I made a bunt for a hit earlier and the coach called a timeout and made a visit to the mound. I noticed the third baseman wasn't playing back anymore – he had moved up. So I batted for a hit.”

The Hauppauge team's top three hitters combined to hit 1 for 12. That would normally spell doom for any team, but not for these Eagles. The rest of the team, led by Magill, hit eight.

“Kyle has been a super strong player in the playoffs,” said starting pitcher Matt Neglia, who scored the decisive run. “He's young, but he doesn't let it bother him. He's so confident and he stands up in important situations and comes through.”

Neglia's attempt to get no hits ended in the sixth inning when Andrew Stagnitto hit a single between third base and shortstop base and was then whistled for his second balk, temporarily throwing everything out of whack for the Eagles.

With one out, Neglia walked leadoff man Mitchell Schalberg and Nick Kriegelstein hit a run-scoring single to make it 2-1. “He was in full control and then lost his rhythm in the inning,” Gutes said. “He was almost perfect.”

Victor's starting pitcher Weston Elkovitch made the second out, but John Swartz hit a 2-and-2 pitch off the right outfield wall for a two-run double and a 3-2 lead.

Gutes took Neglia off the field, who allowed three hits, two walks and three earned runs with five strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings, and handed the ball off to third baseman John Margolies, the team's closer, who induced an inning-ending pop-up.

“That's been my job for four years on the varsity team,” said Margolies, who struck out all seven batters he faced. “I thought it was no different than any other pressure situation in any other game I've been in. That's what I do. I come in and finish.”

Margolies threw 2 1/3 innings of hitless relief for Hauppauge, which won its first Long Island title this season after winning a Suffolk championship for the first time since 2000.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Neglia was hit by a pitch and advanced to second base on Cole Wood's sacrifice bunt. Kevin Walker made the second out before Magill singled to tie the score at 3-3.

Hauppauge controlled the first five innings. Neglia mowed down Victor (20-6), striking out 15 of 16 batters and allowing a baserunner and a walk to Stagnitto in the third inning.

The Eagles broke through against Elkovich in the fourth inning. Neglia led off with a sharp single to left, Wood followed with a single to right, and Walker laid down a sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third base. With one out, Magill hit a fly ball to left field that drifted into foul territory, where Jameson Ricigliano chased and caught the ball. Neglia ran home faster than the throw for a sacrifice fly and a 1-0 lead, and Alex Ofgang's single to center made it 2-0.

Vincent Crafa then hit a double that cleared the right-center field wall. Ofgang came to the point but was ruled out for missing third base, voiding the third run.

“It was a big decision,” Gutes said. “But it was the right decision.”

The game was very reminiscent of a Suffolk playoff game in which Hauppauge fell behind in the eighth inning against Comsewogue but won on Mike Oliveto's walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the inning… not to mention a regular season game in which Oliveto's walk-off grand slam in the seventh inning gave the Eagles a 10-7 victory over East Islip in a game in which the Eagles trailed 7-2 in the sixth inning.

“Simply unbelievable,” said Gutes. “Now we need one more win in this incredible season.”