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Briarcliff Opens Season with Crucial League Win Over Ossining

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Last season, Ossining edged Briarcliff by one game for the league championship. So the game had some extra juice when the two met Wednesday in the Bears’ first game of the season.

Briarcliff’s Lou Carrafiello roped a double into the right-centerfield gap in the fifth inning to drive in two runs, break a 5-5 tie and lift the Bears to a 10-5 win in the first game of Briarcliff High School Varsity Baseball’s eighth annual Booster Club Tournament.

“The previous at bat, I was a little out in front, so I was just going up there thinking, ‘Hit a ball hard the other way,’” Carrafiello said. “I just saw a fastball out over the plate, you know, the perfect pitch to do the job with.”

The Bears will face the winner of the Irvington-O’Neill matchup on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in the championship game, while Ossining will play the loser in the consolation game at 1:30 p.m.

Briarcliff jumped out to a 5-1 lead but the Pride rallied to tie the game at five. After Carrafiello’s double with runners on second and third, John Fussell belted a three-run homer that carrier over the left field fence in the sixth inning to give Briarcliff a five-run cushion that the Bears would never relinquish.

“That was just the nail in the coffin, as they say,” said Ossining Coach Bill Casey. “He’s a great hitter. I think he came up with runners on base all day long…We got lucky a few times with him, but you’re not going to get lucky with John Fussell too often. Eventually he’s going to hurt you and he did on that one.”

Carrafiello said he knew the Bears needed to add to the lead to prevent another rally.

“If they could do it from four runs, why couldn’t they do it from two?” Carrafiello said.

Casey had nothing but respect for the opponent after the game and knew the significance of a league game this early in the season.

“Briarcliff’s obviously one of the best teams out there. We knew that. We’re going to battle them for the league championship,” Casey said. “Last year, we beat them by a game. We told the guys that this is going to be a major difference to have a league game of this importance this early in the year. They can’t afford mistakes.”

Bears’ senior catcher Colin Orr said the importance of the game was not lost on Briarcliff, either.

“We definitely knew this was one of the biggest games on our schedule,” Orr said. “To come out here and put a W up opening day, it feels good.”

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