It’s been a very long time coming. The Huntington baseball team will play for the league championship today for the first time since 1965 when it takes the field against Lindenhurst at 4:30 p.m. at Blue Devil Field.
Superintendent James W. Polansky is expected to throw the first pitch. Huntington is 14-3 and riding a nine game winning streak. The Blue Devils will put their ace on the mound in Palmer O’Beirne as they try to make history. The big lefty flamethrower is 5-1 with 57 strikeouts in 32.1 innings.
Southpaw ace Palmer O'Beirne gets the start on Thursday. (Darin Reed photo.)
Coached by Billy Harris and Rob Cappas, Huntington is an offensive powerhouse with a team batting average of .374. Blue Devil batters have collected 190 hits, including 41 doubles and nine home runs while scoring 134 runs.
Huntington’s batters are great at making contact. The Blue Devils have struck out only 83 times in 609 plate appearances this spring. They have drawn 71 walks and been hit by 15 pitches.
Captains Chris Segreti and Kyle Colleluori are both enjoying exceptional senior seasons. The team’s sure handed shortstop, Segreti is explosive at the plate with 31 hits, including five homeruns and 20 runs batted in. The teenager has scored 25 runs and is batting .456.
Segreti has been in a “take no prisoners” kind of mood all season long. He’s tied for second in the county in homeruns and his fielding has been nearly flawless.
“We are thinking all gas no breaks,” said Segreti about the team’s current mindset. “We need to keep winning and hopefully keep winning in the playoffs. “
Colleluori covers an enormous amount of territory as Huntington’s centerfielder and is also a splendid right handed pitcher. The teenager has a team high 33 hits and 15 doubles along with 22 RBIs. He’s scored 19 runs and is batting .500. He’s also been spectacular on the mound with a 5-1 record. His pinpoint control has resulted in only nine walks in 39.2 innings along with 30 strikeouts.
“We are looking to finish strong and end a great season with one more win,” Colleluori said. “For a lot of us, this will be our last regular season game so we want to bring a lot of energy and then carry that into the playoffs.”
The nine seniors on the roster have been playing together for many years. They go about their business with a degree of seriousness that isn’t often seen on the high school level. The Blue Devils are a team that just loves the game of baseball.
Up and down the lineup, opponents can’t take any Huntington player for an easy out. The Blue Devils have repeatedly displayed an ability to score runs in bunches, frustrating pitchers game after game.
Dylan Schnitzer is one of Huntington’s best sluggers, with 26 hits, including five doubles and a homerun along with a .456 average and 23 runs scored.
Zach Gordon is batting .382 with 21 hits, two homeruns and 19 RBIs. Jaden Italiano has 17 hits, including five doubles and a .321 average. Alex Gonzalez is the Blue Devils’ speedy threat at the bottom of the lineup. He is batting .280 with 13 runs scored and seven stolen bases.
Alex Bellissimo is batting .319 and has thrown 20.1 innings in eight games, striking out 11 and walking only three batters.
Aidan Bender is batting .333 and has drawn 10 walks. The right hander is 3-1 with 24 strikeouts and only eight bases on balls issued in 20.2 innings.
Besides being masterful on the mound, O’Beirne has been productive at the plate. He’s batting .347 with 17 hits and 11 runs scored.
Robby Harrington was the team’s catcher until an injury sidelined him with soreness and bumped him from the position, but he has most recently been playing in the field at first base and contributing at the plate, where he batting .278 with six RBIs in limited action.
Huntington’s bench is solid, too, with even mid-season freshman call-up Harry Baliber contributing and seeing time behind the plate at catcher. The teenager got his first varsity hit and RBI last weekend at Half Hollow Hills East and was awarded the game ball by Harris.
There are several stars on the Blue Devil team, to be sure, but no one openly claims to be one or seeks such a role for himself. It’s all about team. Huntington is comprised of players that are remarkably unselfish; who don’t care about getting credit or having the spotlight shine on them.
“It’s all about winning; the rest is conversation,” accurately sums up the Blue Devil players’ philosophy. They are all chasing after the perfect game, whether it be at the plate, on the mound, in the field or on the base paths. It’s about doing their job; fulfilling their role and helping the 2021 Huntington High School baseball team make history.