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Briarcliff Hangs Tough, Reaches Final Four

There were big hits, home runs, comebacks and great catches, but it was a dropped fly ball with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning that sent Briarcliff to the New York State Public High Schools Final Four Tuesday at Pace University in Pleasantville.

Lou Carrafiello’s short fly ball to right field wasn’t hit very hard but it seemed to have destiny written all over it, glancing off the right-fielder’s glove and onto the soft grass while Briarcliff runner Brendan Weinstein scored the game’s winning run in a 9-8 victory over Long Island’s Mattituck that gave the Bears a regional title and a spot in the Four.

“I knew I didn’t hit it very well, but the opposing fielders have had trouble out there the last two days,” Carrafiello said. “I’m just happy it fell in. We’ll take the win. This team has a lot of heart and we kept coming back.”

Mattituck shocked the Bears by scoring three runs in the first inning to take a quick lead. The resilient Bears, who have been behind in 16 games this season before coming back to win, responded with three runs on Zach Ship’s base-clearing double to tie the score at 3-3 after an inning. Briarcliff took a 5-3 lead on a two-run homer by Ryan Huegel and Mattituck answered with a two–run blast to tie the game again at 5-5 in the fourth.

Briarcliff starter John Henshaw struggled but hung in and came two outs short of finishing the game. Monday’s regional semifinal winner Josh Miller relieved Henshaw in the seventh, inheriting a base runner. Miller got the next three batters in order to seal the win.

“I didn’t my good stuff today,” Henshaw said. “But I tried to keep us in the game, tried to make pitches and limit them. Having Josh there to finish was great. Our offense never gives up. We did the same thing in the Section 1 championship. And our fielders make all the plays. We’re excited to be going to the Final Four.”

The Bears will travel to upstate Binghamton for the state finals Saturday.

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