A dominating run has come to an end for Mamaroneck. The Tigers hadn’t lost in league play since 2010 and were 70-1-1 against league opponents dating back to 2007, but visiting White Plains may have ushered in a new era with its 3-2 win on Wednesday.
“A good win against a good team and well-coached program,” White Plains coach Marcel Galligani said. “We knew it had been awhile since we got a ‘W’ against them, but we approached it like the prior nine games — no more important than the others.”
White Plains survived a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to escape with the win in a game that may be a sign of things to come. Mamaroneck has won six consecutive league titles, but this year is shaping up to be a three-team race, with New Rochelle also in the mix.
White Plains is 2-1 in League II-B after splitting with the Huguenots last week, while Mamaroneck also sits at 2-1. Mamaroneck will look to get back on the winning track at White Plains today, and then has two games against New Rochelle coming next week.
“I think White Plains, New Ro and Mamaroneck can play with any team in Section 1,” Mamaroneck coach Mike Chiapparelli said. “All are very good teams. Our games are highly competitive just because we play every year, home and away, and we try to beat each other every chance that we have. There is a lot of respect between the coaches and the players.”
Big week for North Salem: At 8-1-1, North Salem has been one of the biggest surprises in Class B, and the Tigers are coming off of a week that has thrust them into the section title conversation.
A 1-0 win over Class A contender Somers on Saturday set the tone, and North Salem carried that momentum into a huge game against Haldane. The Blue Devils reached the Class C state title game last season and were considered the favorites for a league title, but with the Tigers’ 3-2 walk-off win over Haldane on Monday, they now sit alone atop the standings.
“I have coached many of these kids for the past four years, and right now they have the younger kids believing in our system,” North Salem coach Rob Gilchrist said. “This chemistry is allowing us to play good fundamental baseball.”
Senior Kevin Zajc has been a key player, batting .385 while going 3-0 on the mound, but it’s been two underclassmen that have been the catalysts. Brothers Phil and Danny Capra are each hitting over .460 and have been revelations for the Tigers. Phil, a sophomore, is North Salem’s starting catcher, while Danny, a freshman, plays in the infield and threw five shutout innings for his first varsity win against Somers.
“Both Capra brothers are special players for us,” Gilchrist said. “Our catcher Phil is our leader on the field and with his bat. Danny is his younger brother who is our utility player when other guys are pitching. Both these kids have a will-to-win attitude.”
Northeast Elite tournament: One of the most competitive tournaments of the season on Section 1 soil will kick off on Friday. The Northeast Elite tournament will span Rockland County and feature four local teams.
There will be two first-round games on Friday at 4 p.m. at North Rockland, with the Red Raiders playing George Washington and Fox Lane taking on Guilderland. Clarkstown North will host Tottenville at 3 p.m., while Clarkstown South will host Norman Thomas at 4 p.m. in the other two first-round games. The semifinals will be held on Saturday at 1 p.m., with the locations to be determined. The championship will be played that night at 7 at Provident Bank Park.
Each of the local teams involved will have big tests in the first round as all four out-of-area teams have traditions of success. Tottenville (10-0), Norman Thomas (9-0) and George Washington (7-3) each come in playing winning baseball, but so are each of the Section 1 teams.
Both Clarkstowns have been off to hot starts, with North at 7-0-1 and South at 6-1-1. The League IV-A title has come down to Suffern and North Rockland in recent years, but the Clarkstowns are the front-runners at the moment.
An early candidate for league MVP is South senior John Kukura. He was banged up last season after a very strong sophomore campaign, but he’s back on track this year. Kukura is hitting .588 with a 1.176 slugging percentage to go along with 20 hits, 16 RBI and four home runs.
“Having John 100 percent healthy this season has been a major factor in our team’s early season success,” Vikings coach Vinny Michello said. “He is locked in and seeing the ball very well.”