Flashback: SWR Baseball Takes State Championship

COURTESY PHOTO | At Shoreham-Wading River Osik was the team's No. 1 pitcher for three straight seasons.

The following article appeared in the June 11, 1987 issue of The News-Review after the Shoreham-Wading River High School baseball team won the New York State Class B championship.

UTICA—For now, SWR baseball coach Sal Mignano is not even thinking about the fact that he losing seven starters from his state championship team (22-7) that became the Class B champions on Saturday night at Murnane Field in Utica. “Someone asked me the other day if I’ve come down yet and I answered, ‘Why should I?’ ” said the Wildcat skipper who waited 11 years for the title.

“It is the ultimate thrill,” he said, referring to the dramatic, 6-5 win over challenger Chenango Forks that gave SWR the coveted title. “You can have all the league championships you want but the goal you shoot for is the states. You keep asking yourself if it really happened afterwards.”

The game was a topsy turvy affair that almost got away from Mignano and his team, who trailed, 5-4, after three innings. Chris Maccaro, who was 6-1 on the year had started, and according to Mignano, was the victim of a few bad breaks and close pitches before he was pulled for stopper Keith Osik. Osik had thrown a one-hitter [in the morning] against Port Chester (a game SWR won, 2-0) and had asked if he could start again.

Mignano answered in the negative but went with Osik after watching him throw on the sidelines before the game. “He was throwing free and easy and I could tell he had plenty left. … I felt he could give us four innings and we could score some more runs.”

Both of those strategies paid off with help from Chenango’s defense. Eric Strovink walked and went to second on a Jared Janoski single. When Chenango pitcher Mike Manley threw wild into left field while trying to get Strovink going to third on a Chris Porter bunt, SWR evened up the game. Porter scored minutes later on the leading edge of a delayed double steal.

Great Catch, Good Call
According to Mignano, the seventh inning was very tense. The lead-off hitter got on and reached third on a sacrifice bunt. Then, with the infield drawn in and Shoreham looking for the squeeze, the Chenango batter looped a pop up that sent Kevin Verdi scampering into the outfield. Verdi made the catch over his shoulder and as Mignano said, “What would have been a good catch in the middle of the season turned into a great catch.”

Alert coaching on the part of Mignano and a change in coaching strategies may have saved the game altogether. With Osik pitching from the windup, the count ran to 2-1 on the clean-up hitter who then promptly fouled off the next two deliveries. “I felt he had Keith’s fastball timed,” remembered Mignano. “I rarely call pitches but this one I called from the bench.” What that batter got was a curve and it froze him, ending the game. “All pandemonium broke loose,” recalled Mignano.