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May 5, 2018 1:51 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Southampton Baseball Clinches Postseason Berth After Eight-Run Sixth Inning Leads To A Victory Over Babylon

Sam Schneider pitched a complete game with five strikeouts in the Mariner's 9-3 victory on Friday. MICHELLE MALONE
May 7, 2018 1:40 PM

What has turned into a magical season for the Southampton baseball team will continue in the Suffolk County Class A postseason.

The Mariners defeated Babylon, 9-3, at home on Friday to clinch their second straight postseason berth into the Class A bracket. Needing two more victories to secure their postseason hopes heading in to last week’s series with the Panthers (13-4 League VIII), who sat in first place to start the week, Southampton (10-7 League VIII) rebounded from its 10-1 loss at Babylon in the series opener on May 1 by holding on for a 3-2 home victory the following day before picking up Friday’s win to take the three-game series.

Southampton trailed Babylon, 3-1, after five and a half innings of play on Friday before exploding for eight runs in the bottom of the sixth. Southampton head coach Scott Johnson said the past two series’ wins over Mattituck and Babylon are a culmination of the team’s progress from the beginning of the season until now.

“We started off the season relatively slowly. We’ve been trying to put a full game together and that’s what happened last week,” he said.

Jem Sisco’s two-run base hit gave Southampton the lead in Friday’s comeback victory, then Thomas Gabriele, who had led off the inning with a walk, capped the rally with a three-run home run. Gabriele scored two runs in the rally and finished the game with a pair of hits. Will Raffel had a key two-out base hit in the sixth to keep the Mariners rally going and Tommy Malone was hit by a pitch to bring in a run. Sam Schneider pitched a complete game with five strikeouts.

Gabriele also came up big in the second game of the series, allowing just two earned runs on six hits and two walks in a complete game. Babylon loaded the bases in the final inning but Gabriele was able to induce what wound up being the final batter to fly out to the end the game.

While Gabriele said that himself, Jayden Pepitone and Jem Sisco have gotten the headlines lately, it’s actually been the bottom of the order that has helped turn around the team’s season and grab wins over key opponents. He said the at bats that Raffel, Malone, Schneider and Thomas Schreiber have put together recently have allowed the team to have key rallies.

“Those guys have been getting it done and have had competitive at bats. That’s a big reason why we are where we are, our whole team is doing good job,” he said.

Johnson concurred with Gabriele.

“We’ve had a few come-from-behind victories now, and now they know that we can pull these types of games out,” he said. “When guys put together good at bats, that becomes contagious and it forces the guys to, instead of going up there and swinging at every pitch, to think about the situation.

“If the bottom of the order can manage to get on base to get us back to the top of the order, we can be a tough team to beat,” Johnson said.

Southampton will finish the regular season this week against Center Moriches, which is now in first place and eyeing the League VIII title. Johnson said he might alter some things this week to put his team in a better position next week for the start of the postseason, which is currently scheduled to start May 16. Johnson would like to avoid what happened last season, when his team played a 19-inning marathon with Mattituck, and after having played 33 innings in that series overall, the Mariners were pretty gassed.

Center Moriches “is looking to win the league, I’m looking to protect my pitching a little bit,” Johnson said. “Not that they’re meaningless games—we want to win every game—but we need to be prepared for the following week. We’re always here to win, but last year having played those 33 innings going into the playoffs, that hurt us tremendously.”

Gabriele feels as long as the team is healthy, it can compete against anyone in the county, and wholeheartedly agrees with his head coach about getting key players rest down the stretch.

“I think everyone’s in pretty good shape,” Gabriele added. “Making sure that Jem is ready to go—Jem and Sam are our two big pitchers—as long as they’re ready, we can be in every game. Jem throws in the upper 80s, he can get anybody out.

“I think, looking at the team at the beginning of the year, not a lot of people expected us to be in the playoffs with Babylon, Mattituck and Moriches in the same league, but we deserve to be there,” he said.

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