For the 2nd straight season, the Pelham Bay Bandits have reached the championship. Losing to Rye Brook 7-6 in the finals over the summer was a good thing according to manager Dom Caggiano, “It took them five innings to realize they were in a championship game. They learned a valuable lesson because this time around their sense of urgency is right where it needs to be.” In the summer finals, with the score at 7-1, the Bandits scored 5 runs in the bottom of the 6th.
In the fall season semi-final round, the Bandits faced off against New Rochelle. In the top of the 1st, New Rochelle jumped out to a 3-0 lead. The Bandits went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. Pitcher Kevin Hernandez struck out the side in the top of the 2nd with his blazing fastball. “ Once Kevin locks in, he becomes a strike machine. We are always in the game when the big guy is on the mound,” said grizzled veteran coach Charlie Giardino. In the bottom of the 2nd, Nino Giardino led off with a triple to left-center, bringing Joey Signore to the plate. Signore put the Bandits on the board with a double down the right field line. Hernandez moved Signore to 3rd with a single and John Darbenzio came through with a sacrifice fly to deep right.
The Bandits exploded for 11 runs in the 3rd and 4th to win by mercy rule 13-3. The offense was led by Nino Giardino (3-3, 3 RBI, 2 Runs), Cal Romano (2-2, 2 RBI, 2 Runs) and Kevin Hernandez (2-3, 2 RBI, Run). Hernandez (4 IP, 8 K’s) retired the lastnine batters he faced to propel the Bandits into the championship. This time around, right-handed fireballer Nino Giardino gets the start in the biggest game of his life. “Nino is such a clutch pitcher. We really like our chances with him on the mound,” manager Dom Caggiano said.