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May 21, 2019 12:41 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Big Fifth Inning Propels Mariners Past Port Jefferson In Outbracket Baseball Playoff Games

Southampton's Sam Schneider pitching in his team's 13-3 win over Port Jefferson. CAILIN RILEY
May 21, 2019 1:03 PM

It was a game they felt they never should have had to play, but the Southampton baseball team took care of business on Monday afternoon, dispatching fifth seed Port Jefferson, 13-3, in an outbracket game in the Suffolk County Class B baseball playoffs.

The game between the Royals and the fourth-seeded Mariners was do or die, with the winner moving on to the four-team double-elimination bracket. Southampton was scheduled to face top seed Center Moriches (18-0) on the road on Tuesday afternoon. Win or lose, the Mariners were set to play on Wednesday as well, against either no. 2 Mattituck or no. 3 Babylon. Depending on the outcomes, the Mariners could end up playing games on four consecutive days, and they’d be the only team in the bracket to do so.

Head coach Scott Johnson expressed frustration that Section XI (the governing body of high school sports in Suffolk County) formatted the Class B playoffs with an outbracket game, instead of giving the top seed, Center Moriches, a first round bye. He said the coaches had been told at the beginning of the season that the playoffs would follow a double elimination format, so was surprised to see that the solution to having an odd number of teams in the bracket was to force the two lowest seeded teams to play in a single elimination game a day before the double elimination tournament began. The Mariners won, but by playing that extra game, they were at a disadvantage, having to burn more pitching arms a day before another game, where their opponent had all its pitchers fresh.

It took awhile for the Mariners to settle in against Port Jefferson. Starting pitcher Gabe Camacho struggled a bit early on, giving up a two-run homer that put the Royals ahead, 3-2, in the top of the fifth. But in the bottom of the inning, the Mariners provided more than enough offensive support, breaking the game open. An RBI double by Alex Petty tied the game at 3-3, and the Mariners went ahead for good after a two-run single by Andrew Smith made it 5-3. Matt Chilicki had an RBI single, and another run scored on an error before the inning ended, with Southampton leading, 7-3.

The Mariners went up, 8-3, in the bottom of the sixth off an RBI single by Steve Kraszewski, and a combination of more strong hitting and several walks issued by Port Jefferson pitchers helped continue the onslaught. A two-run single by Gabe Comacho provided the final margin.

Johnson said the key to pulling away was better discipline at the plate for his hitters.

“We just had better at-bats,” he said. “In one of the earlier innings, their pitcher threw only five pitches. We’ve got to make them work a little bit. Once we had the count in our favor, we had better at-bats.”

Johnson said the fact that his team has a fairly deep rotation of pitchers who are all around the same level, ability wise, cushions the blow of playing an extra game a bit. But he acknowledged it was still tough to go into a game against the undefeated Red Devils, who had several days off, having been out on the field just a day earlier. The Mariners played a three-game series with Center Moriches to finish the regular season, losing all three games, but two of the games were close. He said on Monday that beating the Red Devils wasn’t impossible, but that there wasn’t much room for error.

“Today, we could afford to have an error here and there, which we did,” he said. “If we play flawless ball, we’ll be ok.”

Check sectionxi.org for updated brackets, and go to 27east.com for playoff updates.

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