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May 17, 2017 10:43 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Southampton Baseball Loses Another Extra-Inning Game, This Time In Playoff Opener

Southampton senior Chad Pike pitched eight strong innings in Tuesday's playoff opener. DREW BUDD
May 17, 2017 10:53 AM

To say the Southampton baseball team has been through a lot over the past week would be an understatement.

Just days after finishing a 19-inning marathon in which they lost, 5-4, to Mattituck, the Mariners found themselves in another prolonged game, this time in the opening round of the Suffolk County Class A playoffs in Mount Sinai on Tuesday afternoon. After rallying for two runs in the top of the 11th inning to take a 3-1 lead, it looked as if Southampton was going to head home with a win.

But the Mustangs had other thoughts.

After tying the game on a fielder’s choice and sacrifice fly, Ryan Picarello drove in Will Esposito from third base on a line-drive single into center field to give Mt. Sinai the walk-off 4-3 victory. It was the second heartbreaking loss for Southampton in a matter five days, leaving the team understandably drained, both emotionally and physically.

“I can’t be prouder of these kids,” Southampton head coach Scott Johnson said. “They scrapped, battled for 11 innings, came back, scored two runs in the 11th. You expect that to be enough, just wasn’t the case today.”

Instead of having a few days to rest, had it held on for the victory, Southampton had to come right back the next day on Wednesday and play Harborfields in an elimination game, thankfully at home. Results of that game can be found on 27east.com.

Against Mount Sinai, Southampton took a 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth when Devon O’Brien singled to right field, driving in Jem Sisco, who doubled, from second base. But Mt. Sinai tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, and threatened to end the game with prime scoring chances over the next three innings, but came up empty each time.

Mt. Sinai starting pitcher Danny Deckert, who struck out 12 and allowed just three hits, was finally lifted after 10 innings, and it seemed to work in the Mariners’ favor. With two outs, Sisco singled to center field, then O’Brien hit a line drive that one-hopped the fence in right field, about 325 feet away, that scored Sisco easily for the go-ahead run at 2-1. O’Brien reached third on the play after Mt. Sinai misplayed the cutoff throw coming in to the infield.

The very next batter, Thomas Gabriel, smashed a ball to deep left field. The ball hit the very top of the raised fence, nearly 340 feet away. O’Brien trotted in from third, Gabriel pulled in to second with a double, and the Mariners had a commanding 3-1 lead, which they took into the bottom of the 11th.

Gabriel, who replaced Pike on the mound in the bottom of the ninth, walked the lead-off batter to start the inning, then allowed a single and another walk to load the bases. Johnson decided to replace Gabriel on the mound with Aaron Krzyzewski. He got the first out on a force play at first, but that allowed the Mt. Sinai runner from third to score to make it a 3-2 game. With runners on second and third and one out, Southampton decided to walk the next batter intentionally to loaded the bases and create a force play at any base. But the next batter hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game, setting up the walk-off situation in the next at-bat.

Johnson said that his pitchers simply didn’t make the pitches they needed to in that final inning

“You really need to get that first out to get all of the momentum on your side,” he said. “They had their nine batter up, you get him out and you have a little momentum to work with. It didn’t come our way today.”

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