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Commack baseball team fails in the semifinals of the state championship

BINGHAMTON – Exactly 3 1/2 hours after the scheduled start time of the second semifinal of state baseball Class AAA Friday night, Commack and Section V champion Fairport finally took the field.

Commack, seeking its first state title, scored first, but it became an uphill battle from there. Senior ace and program cornerstone Evan Kay struggled to get going in his two innings, and the Cougars trailed by four runs after two innings and by seven after five, leading to a 9-5 loss that ended early Saturday morning at Mirabito Stadium.

Commack (18-9) ended its season in Binghamton for the second consecutive year after losing to Roy C. Ketcham in the 2023 state final. The Cougars have won the Suffolk title four times in a row and the Long Island title three times in the last four seasons.

“They have so much to be proud of, man,” Commack coach Matt Salmon said. “Leaving Long Island in the AAA division is not easy; I mean, it's a struggle. Even leaving Suffolk County is a struggle. I reminded them that they are all Suffolk County champions. Some of them are two-time champions in a row, some of them won it for the first time. Some of them are two-time champions of Long Island, some of them won it for the first time.

“I just reminded them how proud they should be of themselves and the friendships they have made along the way and how important that is.”

The long break on Friday was due to several weather delays. The first Class AAA semifinal between Shenendehowa and Ketcham began just before 6 p.m., nearly two hours after the scheduled 4 p.m. start. Ketcham won 4-3 in 10 innings at 8:52 p.m., allowing Commack to begin at 9:45 p.m., but another rain delay forced the official start to 10:30 p.m.

Fairport (20-4) and Ketcham will meet in the state championship game at Binghamton University on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Ryan Krzemienski hit a triple with one out to start the first inning and scored on Dean Vincent's sacrifice fly to left field, giving the Cougars a 1-0 lead.

Kay, who holds a Long Island record of 60 consecutive scoreless innings, threw 34 pitches and allowed a two-run single by Will Stanek in the first inning. In the second inning, he threw 19 pitches and allowed a three-run triple by Fairport pitcher Sam Miller that gave the Red Raiders a 5-1 lead.

Kay allowed five earned runs and five hits in two innings, allowed two walks and hit one batter. He struck out three players and threw 53 pitches.

“In three years he's never had any problems with his leadership, but he's human,” Salmon said. “He's an 18-year-old kid who's going to be a phenomenal talent. He's already a phenomenal talent.”

Kay will play at the college level at Stony Brook.

“In all my three years here, no matter who is on the team, they are like brothers to me and always will be,” said an emotional Kay. “If I ever need anything, if they ever need anything – we are always there for each other… The constant bond with them every day, that's just what I will remember the most.”

Stanek's second RBI single and Pat Lindquist's RBI double gave Fairport a 7-1 lead in the fourth inning, and Sam Roselli's sacrifice fly in the fifth inning made it 8-1.

Commack was dangerous in the sixth inning and hit a lot. Max Horowitz's RBI groundout and Brady Cascone's RBI single put the Cougars within 8-3, and two more runs were scored when Ryan Bush got on base on an infield error.

Miller allowed five hits and five runs (three earned) in 5 ⅔ innings. Roselli relieved him in the sixth inning with men on first and second base, got a strikeout and pitched a perfect seventh inning for the save.

Kay said: “Of course things didn't go well for us tonight, but this team is special.”