Island champs again! Wheatley baseball wins Class B LIC crown but lose in the regionals

Island champs again! Wheatley baseball wins Class B LIC crown but lose in the regionals
Wheatley senior first baseman Danny Gillette is one of the big reasons the Wildcats won the L.I. Championship in Class B last week. Photo courtesy of The Wheatley School.

There’s not a lot of chatter around the Quinn family breakfast table on certain days.

Those are the days when Connor Quinn, ace of The Wheatley School baseball team, pitches. Hurlers are notoriously cranky and moody when it’s their turn to throw, so Connor’s brother Casey, a sophomore outfielder, and their parents are well aware of the routine on game days.

“We don’t say much to him at all; just leave him alone and let him get ready,” Casey Quinn said with a laugh. “Let him get right and just get ready for the day.”

That routine has been working for years, and it sure as heck worked on May 30 for the brother duo that powered the Wildcats to a Long Island championship.

Connor Quinn was his usual masterful self on the mound, throwing a complete game and allowing just one run and two hits while striking out eight, and he and Casey combined to reach base all seven times they came up.

That, some timely hitting by others and some solid defense, powered Wheatley to a 3-1 win over Suffolk County champ Babylon and a Long Island championship.

It is the Wildcat’s first LIC since 2021 and the first under second-year head coach David Burke.

The win advanced Wheatley to the Class B regionals on June 1 against Spackenkill (Dutchess Co.) in Saugerties, but that’s where their fabulous season ended. Section IX’s Spackenkill jumped out to an 8-0 lead and won, 8-3.

“These kids buy into what I’ve asked them to, which is to have a great work ethic, come to the field every day committed to getting better,” Burke said a few minutes after a joyous dogpile on the mound following the LIC. “I told them the other day that this was our 63rd (practice or game) together, and they couldn’t believe it. They have so much fun together that it doesn’t feel like a long season.”

Quinn, headed to SUNY-Brockport to play next season, kept the Babylon hitters off balance all day. He struck out five batters in the second and third innings, starting off most hitters with off-speed pitches.

“Just work backward, start them off with strikes, and get ahead in the count,” Connor Quinn said. “And I knew our offense would get going.”

That offense was able to get going in the third inning. Casey Quinn, who had a single and two walks, started off with an infield dribbler down third, which he beat out, and advanced to third on a wild throw to first.

After scoring on a balk, Connor Quinn (a single and three walks on the day) walked, and after a hit by pitch, senior Danny Gillette poked a single into right for a 2-0 Wheatley lead. A sacrifice fly by Anthony Saulino made it 3-0, and that was more than enough for Quinn.

He allowed only one extra-base hit, a triple in the first inning from Aidan Kistner, and wasn’t scored upon until the sixth.

The defense behind Quinn was stellar; in a strange sequence in the fifth inning, Wheatley recorded all three outs at third base.

“I know the defense will be there; all year, they’ve been great,” Connor Quinn said. “Going into the playoffs I knew every game could be my last one of my career here, so it’s so great that we get to keep playing at least one more time.”

In the Class B regional game Spackenkill jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third inning, scoring five runs in the third off Wheatley starter Andrew Asaro, and stretched it to 8-0 in the fifth.

The Wildcats staged a rally in the sixth, getting three runs off an RBI single from Anthony Saulino and a two-run base hit from Noah Filorillo.

“We had a hard time catching up to his fastball. He was really good,” Burke said of Spackenkill starter Dan Collins, who threw a no-hitter until the fifth. “And they’re a really good club. They attacked us and got timely hits.”

Still, Burke emphasized the positive, noting seven of the nine Wheatley lineup regulars return next season.

“It was a great year, and obviously, we wanted to go (to the state semis), but we accomplished a lot, and I’m really proud of all of them,” Burke said.

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