Cowboys Baseball advances to state sectional finals


Catcher Jake Chiavelli has been a 4-year varsity starter and is now playing in his 2nd state sectional final, hoping to bring a talented young team a title. Photo Courtesy of Ryan Saks

The Cowboys of Pascack Hills were awarded the 12th seed in this year’s State tournament and had to play the role of the underdog. They will be facing second-seeded Jefferson in a battle for a State Sectional Title on  June 3, after winning in the first three rounds.

Who would have thought a team that started off its season 0-5 would be playing in the North 1 Group 2 State Sectional Finals?

The Cowboys first round matchup was with the fifth seed, Pequannock. They upset them, 7-2. Rain caused the game to be played in two days. Hills was down 2-0 after three innings, until thunder struck during senior Ryan Lapinksi’s at-bat, causing the umpires to call the game. The Cowboys came back a different team the next day. Lapinski had an RBI fielder’s choice, followed by Billy Siegenthaler game-tying RBI single bringing the score to 2-2. Sophomore pitcher Jack Brodsky threw four innings without a hit for the Cowboys, silencing the Pequannock bats. Hills added five runs in the top of the seventh inning. Siegenthaler, Julian Bulzomi and Brodsky were responsible for all the runs in the inning.

The next opponent was the 13th seed, Wallkill Valley, at home. Pascack Hills won 3-1 to advance to the semifinals. Christian Piantino threw five innings recording five hits, one run and six strikeouts. Once Piantino secured the win, Jacob Cortazzo came in the seventh to close the game.

After beating Wallkill Valley, Hills had to play its rival Mahwah in the semifinals. Mahwah beat up on the Cowboys in the regular season outscoring them 28-4 in the two games they played, but Pascack Hills is a different team in the playoffs. The Cowboys upset top-seeded Mahwah 3-0, getting sweet revenge to a town that ended Hills’ boys basketball and football seasons. Pitching the whole game, Brodsky threw a gem. A Mahwah team with a handful of Division I athletes, Brodsky allowed just three hits and no runs, in addition to eight strikeouts. Charlie DiPiazza had a sacrifice fly, and Jake Chiavelli doubled giving the Cowboys an early 2-0 lead. Billy Siegenthaler added an insurance run in the sixth inning, plating pinch runner Jake Bellmer.

First baseman Lapinski talked about how it felt beating Mahwah. “Mahwah has always been a powerhouse team year in and year out,” he said. “It feels great that they’re the team we beat to get where we are.”

Junior player John Gifas commented on the victory versus their rival. “It feels amazing because all they did was count us out the entire time and smack talk us. No one in this area believed in us and we proved everyone wrong.”

Pascack Hills hasn’t been to the State Sectional Finals since 2013 and haven’t won a title since 2006, but this year’s team could end the drought in Jefferson on Friday.