Two years after racking up 23 wins and capturing the Nassau Class A baseball championship, Clarke didn’t take long to add to its storied history once the action resumed this spring.
The Rams recorded back-to-back no hitters against Conference V rivals Oyster Bay and East Rockaway over a five-day span after yielding just one hit on opening day. It’s not the first time Clarke completely stymied opposing hitters in consecutive games, coach Tom Abruscato said.
Senior Tyler Cox did the honors May 11 when he retired all 15 batters, striking out 13, in a 12-0 victory over East Rockaway. Cox, a standout center fielder who’ll play college ball at West Virginia, scattered four walks and helped his own cause with two hits, two RBIs and two runs scored.
“He’s touching 90 on the fastball,” Abruscato said of Cox, an All-County selection in 2019 who batted 430. “Tyler’s probably the most talented player on Long Island,” he added. “He’s the whole package.”
It was Cox who took the mound in the season opener a week earlier and yielded just one hit in a 12-0 win over Oyster Bay while also fanning 13 and starring at the plate. He tripled twice, homered and knocked in five runs.
Clarke’s second no-no was a combined effort. Senior Sean Welsh and junior Nick Giardino combined for 10 strikeouts May 6 as the Rams defeated Oyster Bay 14-0. The offense was led by senior Lucas Rubenstein and junior Justin Rindner.
Welsh is hitting 85mph on his fastball and also throws a slider and curve. Like Giardino, he plays shortstop and third base. Giardino, the quarterback of the football team, relies more on hitting spots and is considered by Abruscato to be the fastest kid on the bases the program has seen. He hits leadoff, followed by Welsh and Cox.
Senior Matt Destefano is another with a big bat and speed on the bases. He’s headed to Stony Brook and serves as the Rams clean-up hitter. He plays center field when Cox is on the mound. “Matt hits with power and can fly,” Abruscato said.
Rubenstein, who sees time in right field and first base, is the No. 5 hitter and off to a sizzling start. He bats right and throws left, and had multiple hits in two of the first three games. In left field, senior John Kern brings athleticism and a tremendous work ethic, Abruscato said.
Rindner and Jacob Dandic, also a junior, are handing catching duties. Rindner is also an outfielder, while Dandic chips in at first base. “They both do a lot of things well behind the plate,” Abruscato said.
At second base is Nick Berasti, one of a handful of freshmen to ever play at the varsity level during Abruscato’s decades-long tenure. “He’s an outstanding defender, good hitter and a relief pitcher,” Abruscato said.
The Rams will squeeze 16 games into just over a month and then look to be a part of the Long Island championship, which was recently confirmed.