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VSS turns fortunes around


After enduring a seven-game losing streak, including a few one-sided affairs, South High has turned things around on the baseball diamond by posting wins in three of its past four games.

The Falcons improved to 4-9 (3-6 in Conference A-5) with a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over visiting Locust Valley last Thursday. Junior Jayden Mendoza’s bases-loaded single with one out in the bottom of the eighth brought home Matthew Dono with the winning run.

With the Falcons trailing 2-1, Brian Decopain got the rally starting by drawing a walk to lead off the home eighth. Marcello Arrigo, who was running for Decopain, advanced to second on a wild pitch before scoring the tying run when Dono singled sharply to right.

After a base hit to left center by Luke Costanzo, Locust Valley opted to intentionally walk Kyle Barry setting the stage for Mendoza. On the first pitch he saw, Mendoza ripped a single between short and third to give South the walk-off victory. Dono went 6 ⅔ innings giving up just one run on two hits.

“Showing character and fighting back is never an issue with this team,” VSS coach Rich Hess said. “There’s never a lack of effort. There were games where we fell too far behind and put ourselves in unwinnable situations. We’re pitching better, making plays, and putting the ball in play. When you do those things, you’re putting yourself in a good spot.”

Playing solid defense has been the key to South’s recent success. The Falcons made just one error over the stretch that saw them beat Locust Valley twice after shutting out Island Trees 2-0 in the final game of a three-game set.

The Falcons dropped the first two to Island Trees, but showed resilience in the series finale. Costanzo’s single with two outs in the bottom of the fifth brought home Arrigo and Dono with the game’s only runs. Dono went the distance, striking out six while yielding just four hits, and went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. He’s batting .333 with a .500 on base percentage.

With the temperature getting warmer, the Falcons are heating up at the plate. The team raised its overall batting average by 31 points during the Locust Valley series. Mike Schippell is batting .341 with three homers, three doubles, and nine RBI.

Barry provides the team with a quality at bat each time he’s at the plate. He’s hitting .306 and has an OBP of .480. Barry drawn 12 walks. Constanzo has struck out just four times for the season, the least of any starter, and has a .440 OBP.

The Falcons will need to finish strong to earn a playoff berth. “We’re playing for our postseason lives,” Hess said. “We need to win the series with Mineola. I like what’s going on. We’re playing fundamentally-sound baseball. These guys come to work every day. They’re fully invested.”

South will host Mineola in the final game of a three-game series on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.