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Pitching, Defense Key Sherman Park State Title Win

WARWICK, N.Y. – Sherman Park’s high-powered offense fueled its run to the Section 4 Little League Baseball Minors Championship and a pair of victories in the first two games of the New York State Little League Baseball Minors Championship. Scoring in double digits was becoming a given for Sherman Park as it wore out the opponents’ pitchers. South Shore National (Staten Island) starter Thomas Criscuolo would hold Sherman Park to two runs Wednesday, but the District 20 and Section 4 champion proved that its pitching and defense can also stand out in games.

Stephen Donato and Domenick Fensore combined on a seven-hitter Wednesday at Memorial Field, as Sherman Park defeated South Shore National, 3-2, to win the New York State Little League Baseball Minors Championship.

Sherman Park advances to the East Regional, Saturday through Aug. 6 in Cranston, R.I.

Kyle Saul delivered the game’s most important hit, a two-out single to left field, scoring T.J. Palma in the top of the sixth inning with the decisive run.

Donato went four innings and three batters into the fifth. He allowed two runs on seven hits and struck out two. Fensore relieved Donato in the fifth inning with no one out and a run in, and he would earn the win.

“I knew that I was going to need to throw strikes,” said Donato, 10, a sixth-grader-to-be at Westlake Middle School. “I wanted to make sure I kept them off balance and keep them to one run. I also knew I had a good defense behind me.”

Donato was aided by Fensore in the third inning, as the shortstop fielded a ground ball behind second, stepped on the base and threw to first baseman Tommy Minafra to complete the double play.

In the fifth inning, after Thomas Criscuolo doubled in the tying run, Vincent Spaziante executed a double play to halt a possible big inning for South Shore. He charged a grounder, tagged out Vincent Wagner, who was going to second, and flipped to Minafra for the double play. Fensore, who induced the double-play grounder, would strike out the next batter and leave Criscuolo stranded at third.

“Vincent’s play was so big, because if we don’t get the double play there, it could have put us in a tight hole,” said Fensore, 10, a sixth-grader-to-be at Westlake Middle School.

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