Whether he was shortstop, pitcher or hitter, Luke Newman usually found a way to honor his late cousin Dylan Newman.
“I dedicate every game to him,” he said of the former Southold High School baseball player, who died in September at age 18 of a rare form of bone cancer. .
Newman, who was very close to Dylan, paid tribute to his cousin not once, but twice, in the best possible way, and it turned into a storybook week.
Newman struck out 13 hitters, hit three runs and scored a goal in a 13-1 home win over Greenport last Thursday, the same day the Settlers’ new baseball scoreboard was dedicated to commemorating the Dylan.
“I have to say it wasn’t really emotional,” Newman said. “More importantly, I feel like I’m playing for him. So, that’s good.”
Friday’s performance was also very good as Newman led the Settlers to a 9-3 win over hosts Porters in the Suffolk County X-League. The junior did damage on the base path and with his bat. He hit base four times, stole as many bases, scored three runs and finished with his first home run.
Dylan would be proud.
“He’s the best teammate I could have asked for,” Newman said. “So I think he deserves me to play for him.”
In Friday’s first three at-bats, Newman walked and was hit by the pitch twice.
“I’m very selective in my pitches,” he said.
Newman was particularly selective on the pitch at the top of the seventh, and Danny Carteros came in after a double and hit a Declan Crowley pitch over the fence in the dead end to give the Blazers an 8-2 lead.
“I have a feeling it’s going away,” Newman said. “I’m so excited. It’s my first home run.”
His teammates were excited too, as the entire bench saluted Newman as if he had hit a home run.
“It’s a big deal,” he said.
Southold head coach Greg Tulley likes what he sees in Newman.
“He’s a good player,” Tully said. “A lot of potential and it really showed in the last few days. He’s shown that at different points throughout the season.”
Newman’s performance helped the Blazers (4-12, 3-9) sweep a three-game series against the Porters (0-16, 0-13).
Southold took a 3-0 lead in the second inning when designated hitter Bryce Keels singled before winning pitcher Noah Riddell made a mistake. Third baseman Travis Sepenoski added an RBI sacrifice fly.
First baseman Jay Tramontana hit his third in the first of his two RBIs. Alex Lopez drove another run in the fifth, and then the visitors closed out the seventh inning with a four-game winning streak.
“It’s always good to come away with a win,” Tully said. “The boys have gradually gotten better throughout the year and that doesn’t always reflect in the points because we’ll have a bad game and it just piles up.”
But not on Friday.
“What keeps the team going is positivity,” Newman said. “Because we’re so close and it’s a small school, it’s easy to have fun playing baseball.”
Tramontana agreed, saying, “I feel like we’ve always had each other’s back. Those three wins definitely feel really good.”
It’s also been a tough year for Greenport, who has just three seniors — Justus Horton, Colin McDaniel and Crowley. The 16-player roster includes three juniors, three sophomores and seven freshmen.
There’s a lot to learn, but Vinny Punzone, head coach who coaches 200 games a year in Baseball America, is optimistic.
“Some of our players are very young and these players should play on joint venture teams,” he said. “But unfortunately, we didn’t have enough players to play JV. We bought them just to keep the program going. They started learning the game. I tried to keep them sane. We hope to have an overall win this season.”