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May 18, 2017 10:00 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Southampton Baseball Scores Two Late Runs To Win First Ever Class A Playoff Game

Things didn't start off too great for the Mariners but they came back to win their first playoff game in over four years on Wednesday. DREW BUDD
May 18, 2017 11:55 AM

Through the first three innings of Wednesday's Suffolk County Class A playoff elimination game, it looked as if the 30 innings the Southampton baseball team had played in its past two games had finally caught up to it. Harborfields held a 4-0 lead and the host Mariners just didn't look into the win-or-go-home game.

That all changed in the fourth inning. It was like the Mariners flipped a switch.

After scratching a run across in the third inning, the Mariners scored three runs in the fourth, the two tying runs coming off the bat of senior Chad Pike, who hit a two-run home run over the right field fence. Southampton then scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth and it held on for a 6-5 victory. It is the program's first ever Class A playoff victory and its first postseason win in over four years.

The victory also kept Southampton alive in the postseason. It will play at Mount Sinai in a rematch of Tuesday's 11-inning game on Friday at 4 p.m. Shoreham/Wading River, the top seed in Class A, came back to beat No. 4 Mt. Sinai on Wednesday, 3-2, forcing the Mustangs into the elimination game with the fifth-seeded Mariners.

Pike, a four-year varsity player, had never won a playoff game before Wednesday. In fact, the past three playoff games dating back to last season have all been close, one-run losses for the Mariners, so it was nice, Pike said, to finally be on the winning end of one.

"To win this one with all of my friends that I've been playing with a long time ... it's up there with one of the best feelings I've ever felt," he said. "For me, it's the last time I'm ever playing on this field. It feels good to win a playoff game."

Pike did mention that the team is understandably tired after its recent string of marathon games.

"We played a lot of innings the past week. Everyone is pretty tired," he said. "We lost all of those games—one-run, tough games—that we easily could have won at any point, just didn't go our way. Today we were able to get it done."

Southampton head coach Scott Johnson said that switch that was turned on was starting pitcher Aaron Krzyzewski. He didn't like his at-bat in the bottom of the third, where he flied out to right field with runners on second and third to end the inning. He came right back out on the mound and held Harborfields in check for the next three innings.

"He was lights out," Johnson said. "He was probably throwing five miles per hour faster in the fourth, fifth, sixth innings. And I probably could have put him back out there for the seventh but he had done enough."

Southampton scored its two go-ahead runs in the bottom of the sixth with two outs. With Jayden Pepitone, who went 3 for 3 with two runs scored, on third and Joe Riccardi on second, Harborfields opted to intentionally walk Pike to load the bases, creating a force play at any base. The next batter, Jem Sisco, sent a hard-hit ground ball up the middle that Harborfields second baseman Jack Greco made a nice back-hand catch on, but his flip to shortstop Donny Mastroianni was a bit off target, allowing Pike to slide in safely and Pepitone to score to give Southampton its first lead of the day. Devon O'Brien then drew a bases-loaded walk, bringing in what wound up being the winning run.

Sisco gave a lot of credit to Pike on the play at second base. He, and others, thought that had Greco's throw to Mastroianni been on target, Pike would have beaten the ball to the bag anyway.

Sisco then came in to pitch in the top of the seventh to close the game out. He gave up a couple of bloop hits that Harborfields was able to score a run on but the lead was never really in danger. He got Mastroianni to ground out to Krzyzewski at second base to end the game.

Sisco said there was a little bit of nervousness that Harborfields was coming back when it scored its run but he was never worried about giving up the lead. "I knew I could get it done. My fastball was working, my offspeed was working."

Johnson said the one-run win after a couple of heartbreaking losses shows that his team has a lot of character. "It may not be the most talented team that we've had but this team has great character, great personality, they pick one another up, and that really is meaningful to me as coach."

That also leads Johnson to believe that his team can turn things around against Mt. Sinai on Friday.

"I feel like we're better than them," he said. "The way we hit the ball, the way we made plays, the way we pitched ... [Mt. Sinai] scratched it out, give them credit, that's fine. But we'll come back and we'll get them on Friday."

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