By Laura Amato
John Mangieri wants his team to be aggressive.
The Beach Channel baseball coach wants the Dolphins to swing for the metaphorical and literal fences. He wants them to attack on the basepaths and lock in on defense.
It’s an approach that has served the team well all season, but even Mangieri was surprised by just how strong his players looked last Friday.
The Dolphins attacked from every angle, cruising to a 9-1 victory over visiting Brooklyn Tech in the second round of the PSAL Class AA playoffs.
“That’s a key part of our game,” Mangieri said. “We have a lot of good, athletic kids here and we try to press the defense. We want to force other teams to make mistakes.”
Beach Channel, the No. 2 seed, looked a bit shaky early, as Brooklyn Tech’s Lucas Hoye beat out a throw to first in the top of the third and then scored on an RBI double from John Sutera.
It was a miscue the Dolphins (16-1) made sure they didn’t repeat and one that helped light a fire under staring pitcher Antonio Moccio.
The senior didn’t give up another run and was a picture of poise on the mound, giving up just one more hit and working his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning.
“I never lost faith in my team, I knew they would come back and hit for me,” Moccio said. “It definitely boosts us up, because we know we have hitters. As long as I’m doing my job on the mound, they’re going to do their job for me.”
The Dolphins responded to Brooklyn Tech’s (9-9) early score with two runs of their own in the ensuing at-bat, sparked by Emmanuel Gonzalez’s RBI double into deep left field.
“I was just trying to square the ball up and he threw a good curveball,” Gonzalez said. “I was able to put it where I wanted it to go. That’s our game, putting the pressure on another team.”
Beach Channel’s bats weren’t satisfied with just two runs and the Dolphins were able to break the game open in the sixth.
Gonzalez led the charge again, driving in two more runs and sparking a three-hit, six-run inning that wrapped up the victory. By the final pitch, every Dolphins batter had gotten on base.
“We felt like we were right there the whole game, right where we could break it open,” said first baseman Tyler Paladine, who finished 2-for-4. “Towards the end we started breaking them down and we started hitting the ball to where they weren’t.”
The Dolphins took advantage of every opportunity given to them in the victory. The team was aware of every situation, certain of what to do in every single moment. It was that knowledge that led to six stolen bases and a pair of defensive put-outs by catcher Joseph Calandra.
The victory is a major confidence boost for a Beach Channel team that is looking for its first PSAL title since 2014. The Dolphins have their eyes on the prize and are ready to do whatever it takes to get there, even if that means playing with a little extra aggression.
“This has been the plan since the beginning,” Mangieri said. “A few of these kids have been there and they’re antsy to get back. At the beginning, that was the big picture, to get back to the title.”