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Midwood headed to first city championship

Slugger: Midwood senior center fielder Gavin Brien has been a force for the Hornets this postseason, tying up the game against Fort Hamilton on June 6.
Photo by Steven Schnibbe

The time is now.

Midwood baseball coach Saverio Nardone promised his team it would compete for a championship — and now it’s happening. The Hornets squad will make its first-ever Public School Athletic League championship appearance on June 13 at Yankee Stadium, facing off against top-seeded Tottenville in the AAA final.

“When I came in last year, the first thing I told these boys was that my goal was to win a city championship and hang a banner,” said Nardone, who is in his second year with the program. “We’ve been breeding that championship culture from the second I walked in, and the kids bought into it. They bought into that team culture, and here we are.”

Nardone may have promised his team an opportunity at a city championship, but it hasn’t been an easy road for Midwood this year. In fact, the group’s most recent postseason matchup presented some of the most challenging on-field moments.

The Hornets cruised to a 12–0 victory over Fort Hamilton in game one of the best-of-three semifinal series, but dropped game two, falling 5–3 after the Tigers rallied late.

And things only got crazier after that.

Fort Hamilton jumped out to a 2–1 lead in the rubber match on June 5 before officials suspended the game in the bottom of the fifth inning when torrential rains made it impossible to play. The squads returned to the field on June 6, and the Hornets team knew it had to change its mind set.

“The kids know that there’s a ton of fight on this team and we have a ton of heart,” Nardone said. “We preach just staying in the moment. The kids knew they were going to fight back. “

Gavin Brien tied up the game in the bottom of the fifth, and Midwood’s offense rallied behind the senior, en route to a 5–2 victory and a championship berth.

It may have taken two days, but it’s exactly the kind of game that has come to define the Hornets this season. Everyone contributed, everyone battled and, in the end, everyone celebrated.

“The team has its leaders, but everyone counts on each other,” Nardone said. “That’s the beauty of this team. They play for one another. No one is just playing for themselves. The leaders really set the example for that.”

The Hornets have flown under the radar this season, but that’s all changed. Now, the spotlight is bright, and the expectations are sky-high. But that won’t change the way Midwood approaches the championship — the team is well aware of its underdog status heading into Yankee Stadium, but the Hornets plan to use that as an advantage. After all, Nardone made his team a promise.

“It means the world to them,” Nardone said. “It means the world to me. We’re going to compete.”

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