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Baseball: Southold swings its way to second LI title in three years

Southold has a batting order you can count on — like 1, 2, 3.

That would be as in the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 batters at the top of its order. They made Southold’s ascension to the Long Island Class C baseball championship Thursday look as simple as 1, 2, 3.

Pat McFarland, Luke Hansen and Shane Zimmer combined for 10 RBIs and seven hits as Southold romped, 13-5, over East Rockaway.

The pastoral setting of SUNY/Old Westbury was the site for a hot, sunny late-afternoon start as Southold (23-1) exorcised some demons along the way. It was East Rockaway (10-10), which had defeated Southold in last year’s Long Island title game. In that contest, Southold lost a one-hit shutout.

Hitting wasn’t a problem this time around as the First Settlers advance to their second Southeast Region final in three years. They will play North Salem on Saturday at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.

As they have for so much of this season, Southold came out swinging, starting with the top of its lineup. McFarland, the senior leadoff batter, went 2-for-2, walked three times, knocked in two runs, scored three runs and stole two bases. Hansen, a junior, went 3-for-4 with five RBIs, a double a sacrifice fly and two runs scored. Zimmer went 2-for-4 with three RBIs.

Southold’s 12-hit attack also benefitted from a 2-for-2 game by Billy Burns, who had an RBI single himself.

That’s a lot of offensive production.

The runs came early and often as Southold jumped out to a commanding 10-0 lead by the third inning.

Three batters into the game, Southold was ahead, 2-0. McFarland worked a full-count walk and Hansen slugged a double before Zimmer singled them both in.

If that made the First Settlers feel good, what happened the following inning had to thrill them.

They battered East Rockaway’s starting pitcher, sophomore Dylan Henshaw (4-1), who was charged with six runs before being pulled after one-plus innings.

A six-run second by Southold was a killer for East Rockaway. It was a rally that saw Matt Cardi draw a bases-loaded walk, McFarland loop a two-run double over centerfielder Chris Deptulski, Hansen ram a two-run single and Zimmer slice an RBI single that fell inside the rightfield line.

Dylan Clausen (10-0) was a workhorse for Southold, as coach Mike Carver described him to reporters afterward. The senior lefthander threw 110 pitches before being relieved by McFarland one out into the seventh with the bases loaded. McFarland struck out the only two batters he faced, before gloves flew in the air and Southold players piled on top of each other just off to the side of the pitcher’s mound in celebration.

Clausen, who entered the game with a 0.36 ERA, allowed four earned runs, 11 hits and three walks, with nine strikeouts.

Clausen hit a rough patch in the third, when East Rockaway put up three runs on RBI singles by Stefano Cilluffo, Justin Schmidt and Henshaw. But he then recovered and appeared to find his stuff again.

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Photo caption: Southold players rejoice after the team won its second Long Island championship in three years. (Credit: Bill Landon).