The McGann-Mercy Monarchs are heading to the Class C New York State Regional Championships after their second straight Suffolk County title, winning 8-3 over Pierson on Tuesday at home.
Pat Stepnoski took the hill on four days rest for the second straight game, tossing five and one-third innings of one-run ball while adding four hits at the plate. His catcher, Rocco Pascale — who belted a two-run home run in the first to put Mercy on top for good — called "Step" the playoff MVP so far.
That, combined with the 23 runs the offense has put up in the past two games, has Pascale thinking this spring could lead the Monarchs deeper into the playoffs than last year.
Stepnoski will take the hill again on Sunday against Locust Hill's Friends Academy in the Long Island Championship. Friends knocked Mercy out last spring.
"Well, we knew we were the better team and we played it, which we needed to do," said Pascale, who hit seven home runs so far this year.
On catching Stepnoski, who went six innings in Tuesday's 15-5 win over Port Jefferson: "He was definitely the MVP of the series. Sometimes he tries to overpower everybody, but basically when he's up there, you know good things are going to happen."
The Monarchs flew ahead early and never looked back, charging out in front with a six-hit, five-run first inning off Pierson starter Jake Weingartner. Mercy added two more in the second, knocking Weingartner from the game; lefty Colman Vila, working often off of his curveball, came on in relief, allowing one run the rest of the way.
The offensive output of the first two frames comes in the wake of a 15-run showing on Tuesday against Port Jefferson, the third squad in the three-team round robin in Class C.
"We knew they could hit," said Jon Tortorella, head coach of the Whalers, who said his team surpassed his own expectations by coming as far as it did. "I think we also let too many opportunities pass us by."
Tortorella noted a few called third strikes and ten walks between Stepnoski and reliever KT DeScalo as some missed opportunities for Pierson.
Mercy head coach Ed Meier said this year's win was a little more sweet coming on his team's home field. After the victory, the team kicked off their shoes and sprinted for a pond between the ball field and Middle Road to celebrate the win.