Andy Garcia pitches gem to lift Patchogue-Medford into playoffs

There is an old saying that "pressure bursts pipes."

Andy Garcia and his Patchogue-Medford teammates apparently aren't familiar with it.

Needing a win to qualify for the Suffolk Class AA baseball playoffs, Garcia struck out five and scattered five hits to lead the Raiders over visiting Longwood, 2-0, in the League I finale for both teams.

Garcia also drove in the game's first run with a first-inning sacrifice fly before P.J. Martino doubled the Patchogue-Medford lead with an RBI single in the fifth.

"You just have to cancel everything out," said Garcia, a junior, on how he handled the win-or-go-home scenario. "I had tunnel vision. I tune everybody out, it's just you and the catcher."

"Garcia was a man today," said Raiders coach Anthony Frascogna, who won his 200th career game. "He said he was going to take care of business. He asked for this game earlier in the week and I had all the confidence in the world in him."

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Garcia also got help from his defense, which made a number of nice plays. None was bigger than leftfielder Matt Codispoti's diving catch in the fourth inning.

With the tying run on second, Longwood's Tim Kennedy hit a hard line drive to left, where Codispoti laid out to record the out.

Garcia said after Codispoti made the catch that he "just wanted to go out there and hug him. Oh my gosh!"

The Raiders (10-8) enter the playoffs having won seven of eight and will boast a formidable starting rotation of Garcia, Martino and senior Nick Clemente.

"We had great chemistry, we stayed positive and never got down," Martino said of the team's mentality over the season's stretch run. Senior Martino, playing first base Saturday, was 2-for-3.

"I'm happy that the seniors get to play another day," Frascogna said. "They're a great group of guys. They deserve a chance to experience the playoffs together."

Patchogue-Medford made the playoffs in 2012 but missed the postseason last season.

Raiders shortstop Brett Malm also was 2-for-3 and scored on Garcia's sacrifice fly.

Longwood starting pitcher Aaron Floyd struck out three, walked one and allowed a run and two hits in four innings.

The Lions (11-7) entered the game having already qualified for the playoffs.

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While Patchogue-Medford's next opponent is to be determined, one things is certain:

When the playoffs start, the Raiders will be able to handle the pressure.

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