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Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Nassau drops Grand Slam Challenge
Ron Manfredi/Herald
Valley Stream North's Anthony Martelli singled in his first plate appearance.

Great pitching silenced great hitting when some of the top high school senior baseball players from Nassau and Suffolk Counties got together for the Ryan T. Caufield Grand Slam Challenge last Monday evening at Farmingdale State College.

Pitchers on both sides combined for 29 strikeouts and only two walks in the eighth annual charity game won by the Suffolk all-stars, 3-1. Matt Vogel (Patchogue-Medford), who was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Major League Baseball Draft earlier in the month, used his 95-mph fastball to record two of the strikeouts and went 2-for-3 with one RBI and a stolen base on the way to earning MVP honors for Suffolk. Nassau MVP Bryce Keller (Port Washington) struck out the side in the ninth.

“This is the fourth time I’ve coached in this game, and I’ve never seen such an outstanding collection of pitchers on both sides,” Clarke’s Tom Abruscato said. “There were some hits scattered around, but it was mainly about the pitching. We made a few mistakes in the last inning that cost us.”

The game is played in memory of Caufield, a former Nassau Diamond Award winning catcher who starred at Bethpage and New York Tech. Caufield died in 2000 at the age of 22 from complications from lupus. All proceeds from the event support lupus research. The game was postponed by rain twice this month. An extra inning was added to accommodate additional players originally unable to participate do to their high school teams’ competing in the state championships. 

“It’s a special game to be a part of, and a lot of fun,” Abruscato said. “I coached in the first one at the Long Island Ducks stadium in 2002, and it’s grown every year. It’s for a great cause.”

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