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Briarcliff to Play for Section 4 Baseball Title

BRIARCLIFF, NY -- Briarcliff pitcher Joshua Miller found himself in a potentially-dangerous situation in the first inning of the Big League Baseball Section 4 losers’ bracket final Sunday at Briarcliff High School.

Rockland, the District 18 representative, had a run in and the bases loaded with one out against the left-hander and 2011 Briarcliff graduate. Miller would extricate himself from the jam and William Conlin would close out a 4-3 Briarcliff win over Rockland. Briarcliff will play Southern Dutchess County, the District 17 titlist, for the title, Tuesday, at 5 p.m., at Briarcliff High School. If Briarcliff wins, the decisive game will be held Wednesday, at 5 p.m., at the same site. The teams met in the winners’ bracket final earlier Sunday and Southern Dutchess prevailed on a walk-off two-run homer in the seventh inning.

Miller went 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs and striking out five. Conlin, with the tieing run on second, secured the last two outs. “I usually start off a little rusty in the first inning and after that I usually settle down,” said Miller, who will attend York College in Pennsylvania next fall and play baseball. Rockland strung together four singles with one out in the first inning. Keith Ledesma had the third hit, scoring Joe Rastelli. John Tasaro’s bunt loaded the bases, but Miller struck out Billy Garrison. As soon as Miller received the ball from catcher Derek Badger, he noticed Rockland’s Bobby Sydnor, had strayed too far down the third-base line. Miller whipped a throw to third baseman Jackson Plimpton, who chased Sydnor a step or two before throwing to Badger. Sydnor attempted to run over Badger, but he was tagged out and thrown out of the game for his action.

“That was a bang-bang play,” said Miller of the quick throw to Plimpton. "It was a quick reaction and fortunately, it worked out for us.”

Briarcliff took the lead with two runs in the third on a two-out error, scoring Dan Dwyer, and a double by Patrick Leyden, chasing home Conlin. Briarcliff added two more in the fourth. Dwyer’s two-out double off the top of the center-field fence brought in Ronald DelCid and Dwyer scored on consecutive throwing errors. Miller avoided a threat in the third when Badger threw out Ledesma attempting to steal second with two outs and a runner on third. In the fourth, Miller walked Garrison but immediately picked him off.  Rockland had runners on the corners in the sixth with one out, but Dwyer turned an unassisted double play to end the inning.

“Those all came at huge parts of the game,” said Miller of the plays. “As a pitcher you can’t ask for anything better than a good defense.”

With one out in the seventh, Jeremy Carrasquillo walked and Joe Rastelli doubled off the center-field fence. Miller, who reached the maximum pitch limit, was relieved by Conlin, who threw 90 pitches against Southern Dutchess in the morning. Conlin, a 2011 Briarcliff graduate, surrendered a two-run double to Eric Cayne, but induced Ledesma to foul out to Leyden at first and John Tasaro lined out to Miller in right.

“I wasn’t aware of my pitch count so I didn’t think I would come back this afternoon,” said Conlin, who will attend Siena next fall and play baseball. “In the fifth inning coach came to me and I told me I had 15 pitches left. He asked me how my arm was and I told him I was good to go.”

After Cayne’s double, on a pitch Conlin said he wanted back, he regained his focus. “I focused on the batter, wanted to get ahead of them and put them away,” Conlin said.

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