Baseball: League champs


BY JOE WERKMEISTER | SPORTS EDITOR

The way Tom Veryzer sees it, there's not much to his job. Fill out the lineup, throw Thor Miller on the mound and enjoy the show.

"They make it pretty easy on you," said the Miller Place baseball coach.

Veryzer led the Panthers to a League VI title in his first year as the varsity coach and has his team primed for one of the top seeds in the Class A playoffs starting this week. The Panthers capped off a sweep of Amityville Tuesday with a 10-0 win to finish the league season 15-3. It was their first league title since 2004 when they competed in League V. Now they'll take aim at their first county title since 2005.

"As excited as the players are about winning the league, they understand that's an accomplishment, but I think the group has bigger goals in their mind," Veryzer said.

Miller pitched six innings against Amityville Tuesday and struck out 14 while giving up two hits and one walk. Veryzer said Miller will be on schedule to throw Game 1 of the playoffs, which will likely be Wednesday. Miller went 6-1 in the regular season with his only loss coming in relief in the third game against Rocky Point April 30.

Miller's been just as good at the plate.

"He's been hitting every series," Veryzer said. "It was just unbelievable. He always found a way to get it done every series."

Dean Haussel, who also pitches, anchored the lineup with a .508 average through the league season, Veryzer said.

Looking at the competition the Panthers had to face in League VI, from Rocky Point to Shoreham-Wading River to Harborfields, coming out with just three losses was no easy task.

"There was always tense moments in every series and sometimes things just bounced our way," Veryzer said.

The Panthers will try to shake the disappointment of their last two playoff appearances. In '07 the Panthers were shut out by Islip in a tight game and last year they were roughed up by Mount Sinai in the first round.

"They did feel a feeling of disappointment after it," Veryzer said. "I think it's kind of internal, the idea of wanting to push past where they were last year and move forward."

The Panthers will have two tune-up games before the playoffs begin. James Wegge was scheduled to pitch against North Babylon (13-6) and Haussel against Connetquot (18-3).

"We're going to learn a lot about ourselves the next two days," Veryzer said Tuesday. "We'll use everything we learn about ourselves to target areas we need to improve before going into the playoffs."

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