Rebuilt Seaford finding its way


Winning a Nassau County championship last season was an achievement 20 years in the making for Mike Milano, the coach of Seaford’s baseball team.
The Vikings rolled to a 22-2 overall record, with a 16-1 mark in conference play. Now, they’re trying to figure out how to recreate that magic with a new roster and a target on their backs.
“Last year, we kind of rolled out the same group every day and just watched them play,” said Milano. “This year, it’s been about constantly teaching and constantly showing this young group what we expect and what we think we need to do to win at this level.”
Few have returned from last year’s championship team.
Jason Berthel is meeting preseason expectations while taking over at shortstop. The junior is even displaying some newfound power, with his grand slam on April 11 being the deciding factor in a 5-3 win over Cold Spring Harbor. Meanwhile, junior Luke Walsh is having a breakout year, hitting in the middle of the order as Seaford’s centerfielder and its starter on the hill on Mondays.

“They know it’s not going to be the same,” Milano said. “But that doesn’t mean that the team can’t grow into something wonderful, and we’re already seeing some things. This team, to be honest with you, we’ve raised their expectations. They now understand what’s expected of them, and they’re growing into a team that I think you know could really surprise people.”
It’s helped that many of the newcomers are quickly proving their capabilities at the varsity level. Among them are sophomore Dylan Alt, who has played all over the diamond, and junior Jordan Cassuto, who has shown an ability to remain calm in the clutch. With 10 new players on the roster, the internal competition has benefitted the team and provided Milano with a healthy challenge to construct a lineup every game.
“The players make the lineup,” said Milano. “They go after each other in competitive, fun ways. They’re pushing each other.”
However, from a record standpoint, it’s already certain Seaford will have a worse year compared to last. Through 11 games, the Vikings sit at 7-4 overall after dropping a series to Clarke last week.
After losing the series opener and then taking the middle game, 2-1, April 16 on senior Anthony Janes’ double and winning run and junior pitcher Thomas Appolo’s gem, Seaford controlled the rubber match through six innings of play last Friday. But in the late stages, the Vikings’ defense came apart, spoiling a four-run lead in a 5-4 loss in extras.
It was by far the most crushing defeat the team has suffered yet. But after winning it all last year, Seaford knows a championship based on more than just box scores.
“I don’t know where this team could go,” Milano said. “It’s up to them and how hard they want to work. We give them a good practice plan, and we give them a good game plan every day. If they want to work hard, I guess the sky’s the limit for this team.”