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Tappan Zee coach Mark Stanford was in uniform the last time that the Dutchmen won a league title, but he was playing a bit of a different role. Back in 1984, Stanford was a key pitcher for TZ. Now the only time he takes the mound is to take a pitcher out of the game, or offer some advice.
It’s been a long time coming, but the 14-year manager can now say he’s won a league title as both a player and a coach.
“I do, unfortunately,” Stanford said when I asked if he could recall the last league title. “I remember it every year, and this will make it a little easier to let it go.”
The player who led the Dutchmen to their first championship in 29 years was an unlikely hero. Dan Citardi hadn’t started a single game this season, but with TZ playing six games this week and short on pitching, the junior right-hander was called on to make the biggest start of the season.
He got the job done in a 5-1 win over rival Pearl River, pitching a complete game on an efficient 85 pitches while allowing just six scattered hits.
“I found out yesterday (that I was starting),” Citardi said. “I wasn’t expecting to start this game, so to come out and win the league feels really good.”
• Citardi’s story is really pretty remarkable. TZ has arguably the deepest pitching staff in Class A, with Mike Woulfe, Eric Casey, Chris Decicco and Chris Monaco logging the majority of the innings (although Monaco has missed some time recently, which I’ll have more on further down in the post). If you look at him, he looks more like a JV pitcher, standing at around 5-foot-5. But with the pitching staff stretched so thin, the decision was made yesterday that Citardi would get the start. “He threw 50 (pitches in relief) on Monday,” Stanford said. “We were hoping that he could get us four or five, keep guys off balance all day, and then we were going to go to someone else who throws a little harder and figure that he looks like he’s throwing 200 miles an hour after that. We didn’t entertain the thought that he was going to go for a complete game, but we sure as heck weren’t going to take him out.”
• Citardi pretty much breezed through the first five innings, allowing just four hits and no walks over that span. He certainly wasn’t overpowering, but he was crafty with his offspeed pitches, and threw a ton of strikes. “I felt like my offspeed stuff was really working. I don’t throw the hardest, so that’s how I have to live,” he said. “I just kept throwing strikes, let them hit it, and it goes to fielders.”
• Here’s Stanford on why he thought Citardi was so effective: “The guys on the bench just told me that the first first-pitch ball he threw was in the fourth inning. He was ahead all day, and when he was ahead, he was able to use his offspeed stuff. He mixed the changeup and the curveball all day, and just kept people off balance. He’s a special kind of kid because he thinks out there, too. He’s not trying to do more than he can do. He knows who he is and how he’s going to get outs, and he executed that as well as he could.”
• And here’s Pearl River coach Bruce Miller on Citardi’s gutty performance: “He threw a lot of offspeed stuff, and we were lunging at pitches. We tried to make some adjustments, but in the first five innings, I believe 12 of the 15 outs were on fly balls. They were playing their outfield deep… You have to give him credit. He pitched a good game.”
• While TZ threw a pitcher that hasn’t seen a lot of innings this season, Pearl River went with one of its top two starters in John Doherty. The Dutchmen didn’t knock the senior right-hander around — they didn’t have a single extra-base hit — but they came up with enough timely hits to make the Pirates pay for a total of four walks and four errors. “We haven’t been hitting the ball real well, but today I think we did a great job of taking advantage of the chances that we had,” Stanford said. “The hit-and-run early was big, a couple of sac flies that got us RBI – just whatever we could get, we got. That was a big difference.”
• The Dutchmen scored two runs in the second on an RBI single from Brendan Hauser and a sac fly from Mike Barbato, but the story of the inning was a big collision in right-center field. CF Richie Masley and RF Chris Beers were each tracking Barbato’s fly and banged into each other just as Beers’ made the catch. It was a scary moment with both players laying on the ground, but Beers managed to lift the ball into the air to show the ump that he held on. Both stayed in the game, but Beers was in serious pain and came out after the inning. It sounds like he bruised a few ribs. “It was a pretty intense collision out there,” Miller said. “He really wanted to stay in being a senior and this being senior day, but it started getting a little worse and we didn’t want to take any chances. By the end of the game he was feeling a little bit better, but it wasn’t worth it. He really took a good shot.”
• TZ extended the lead to 3-0 on another Barbato sac fly in the fourth, and made it 4-0 on a Mike Mante RBI single in the fifth. The middle portion of the Dutchmen lineup looked pretty good — Tommy Morales, Matt Scherf and Mante — and have shown the ability to produce some runs for a team that had some offensive question marks entering the season. Morales in particular looked like a really nice lefty bat, and flashed the ability to drive the ball the opposite way. “The big one has been Tommy Morales,” Mante said. “He hits the ball a lot of the time in the clutch.”
• The Dutchmen added a fifth run in the seventh on a throwing error, which was an issue for the Pirates all day. A few pickoffs gone wrong probably cost them a few runs. The defense was not clean today. “We lost to Albertus Magnus twice, and we really haven’t been playing good ball late in the year, when we want to gel,” Miller said. “We have sectionals to look forward to, and we’re going to get back to work tomorrow.”
• Doherty’s final line was: 6 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 5 K, 110 pitches (67 strikes, 43 balls). He had to work pretty hard in almost every inning. “We talk about getting the first guy out in each inning, and they got five guys on leading off the inning – two by walk,” Miller said. “They didn’t really hit him hard, but once they got people on, we were back on our heels a little bit. They came up with big hits when they needed him.”
• Pearl River threatened in both the sixth and seventh innings, but only came up with one run on a groundball, which TZ was willing to concede at that point with a five-run lead. Citardi’s final line was: 7 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 85 pitches (62 strikes, 23 balls). “I’m proud of him,” Mante said. “We saw it coming a little bit. Dan just went out there and did his thing. He’s good.”
• Stanford told me that his playoff rotation will consist of Woulfe, Casey and Decicco, but I think that Citardi earned himself some innings in relief. Monaco has been dealing with an elbow issue, but the MRI came back clean and they’re hoping that he can maybe work as a closer of sorts in the playoffs. If he’s back to his old self, TZ will certainly have the pitching to make a run in Class A. He’s only a junior, and he’s already committed to Virginia Tech. He was electric when I saw him throw a one-hitter against Ardsley in the first round last year. “He got cleared to start throwing again,” Stanford said. “Hopefully, we’ll get him back for some relief work by sectionals. Nobody really knows. The MRI, nothing came back (wrong), just some pain in the elbow, but nothing structural. You just want to be careful. He’s a young kid – and as important as this is – it’s still high school baseball, and he’s got a lot of years of pitching ahead of him.”
• Before TZ seized the title today, Pearl River had won three consecutive league championships. Miller said he’s pretty sure that the Pirates had won seven of the last 10. “Usually, we’re always battling against them,” Stanford said. “They got us by a game last year, they got us by a game the year before – he’s had a stranglehold on it. It’s kind of nice to get one for a change.”
Here are the rest of the results that we’ve received so far tonight:
Somers 22, Brewster 11: At Somers Wednesday, Adam Jacobs was 3 for 4 with a double and five RBI. Teammate Dom Mignoli had a double, a home run and three RBI. Joe Scambia was 3 for 5 with a double, a home run, and two RBI. Sean Fitzgerald had a double and three RBI for the Bears.
Hastings 5, Edgemont 3: At Edgemont Wednesday, Nico Selemon had a double and an RBI. Nick Pottenburg, Adam Meyerson and Ross Kantor each had an RBI for the Panthers.
Mahopac 11, Putnam Valley 3: At Mahopac Wednesday, John Delahanty went 2 for 2 with two RBI, two runs and a double. Mike Komendowski went 2 for 3 with three RBI and a run. Dylan Jorde had two RBI. John Meagle had two RBI for the Tigers. Kyle Kuttruf went 3 for 4 with a RBI.
Eastchester 16, Yonkers 0, 5: At Yonkers, Greg Satriale drove in four runs and Kevin Krippel, Devin Merone and Mike Milo each drove in a pair for the Eagles. Marc Medico gave up one hit in earning the victory.
Keio 8, Blind Brook 0: At Blind Brook, Takumi Yokoyama struck out 13 to pick up the win.Taka Miyairi and Seiichiro Usui each drove in two runs.
Fox Lane 15, Rye 4: At Rye, Matt Oniffrey had a home run and five RBI. Mark Shkrelja had four RBI and twin brother Anthony Shkelja added three RBI. Brendan Tripodi had a double and an RBI.
Saunders 5, Riverside 4: At Saunders, Rob Liptak had the game-tying RBI single in the bottom of the seventh and scored the winning run when Jovan Claudio walked with the bases loaded. Mauriel Batista had two RBI for Riverside.
Nanuet 9, Nyack 7: At Nyack, Cody Fitzgerald had four RBI and Matt Dillon added two RBI for Nanuet. Chuck Olsen had two doubles and two RBI for Nyack.
Clarkstown North 12, Clarkstown South 0: At Clarkstown South, Josh Forman had a triple, a home run and six RBI. Josh Sharan and Kevin Kolesar each had a double and an RBI. Robert Donnelly pitched a three-hitter for the Rams. Joe Caruso had two hits for the Vikings.
Rye Neck 8, Valhalla 1: At Rye Neck, Matt Franks had four RBI, Chris Pennell had two RBI and Matt Garcia tossed a two-hitter with six strikeouts for the Panthers. Louis Ingrassia drove in the Vikings’ run.
Mamaroneck 10, Mount Vernon 1: At Mount Vernon, Connor Bingham had a double and two RBI. Teammate Richie Barella had two RBI. Nazam Gafoor had an RBI for the Knights.
Ardsley 6, Hastings 5: At Hastings, Joe DeGuardia had two hits, scored twice and had two RBI for the Pantehrs. Eric Scaperotta drove in a run and got the win, yielding no earned runs in six-and-a-third innings. Jake Karmel scored two runs and had an RBI for the Yellow Jackets.
Westlake 15, Edgemont 3: At Westlake, Phil Cohen and Anthony Rotunno each homered. Cohen finished with five RBI, while Rotunno went 3 for 3 with two RBI and four runs scored. Brendan Duane pitched a complete game with six strikeouts for the win. Ben Levy homered for the Panthers.
Bronxville 9, Gorton 3: At Bronxville, Jack Braumuller pitched a five-hitter allowing one earned run and struck out three for the Broncos. Braumuller drove in a run. Nicol Doukas went 3 for 4 and drove in three runs. Teammate Graham Klimley went 4 for 4 and drove in two.
White Plains 4, Harrison 1; At White Plains, Lukas Repetti allowed no earned runs and struck out seven to pick up the win and Chris Medeot had two hits and an RBI for the Tigers. Tyler Hart had two hits and scored a run for the Huskies.
Horace Greeley 7, Port Chester 2: At Port Chester, Quinn Carter had three RBI. Brayden Schiffman and Adam Quine each had an RBI. Kyle Drummond had an RBI for the Rams.
Pleasantville 11, St. Raymonds 6: At Pleasantville, James Leyden had three RBI. Drew Marino, Dan Cahill and Nick Greto had two RBI.
Dobbs Ferry 4, Irvington 3
New Rochelle 7, Scarsdale 4 (clinches a share of the league title for the Huguenots with White Plains)
Mahopac 11, Beacon 9, 9
John Jay-EF 9, Carmel 5, 9
North Salem 13, Peekskill 0 (clinches league title for the Tigers)