The motto for the Half Hollow Hills West baseball team this season has been, "Do you believe in magic?"
The Colts certainly walked a tightrope Wednesday, but everything changed with one wave of the wand.
Latest HS sports stories
Trailing by a run against top-seeded East Islip and down to their last out in the seventh, David Golinowski swung at a 2-and-2 curveball.
"I thought it was a pop-up and all the bad thoughts were going through my head," the third baseman said. But . . .
The ball carried about 350 feet, over the fence in left-centerfield, for a two-run homer. And just like that, ninth-seeded Hills West came from behind to upset the Redmen, 5-4, in the second round of the Suffolk Class AA playoffs.
"I couldn't believe it," Golinowski said. "Thank God for the wind."
Pinch-hitter Nick Lombardi had singled to right, setting up Golinowski, who was 3-for-4.
"When that ball went up, I thought it had a chance and the outfielder kept drifting back," Colts coach Tom Migliozzi said. "David's been swinging a good bat. He's who you'd want up in those spots."
He was in the fifth, when his two-run double brought Hills West within 4-3.
The Colts (17-5) face No. 4 Commack in the quarterfinals at 4 p.m. Monday.
Ken Rotunno's sacrifice fly put East Islip up, 4-0, in the third. That lead appeared comfortable, given Rotunno's early dominance on the mound, but Jon Faraci's RBI single sparked a three-run fifth for Hills West. Mike Demarest relieved Rotunno with two outs in the fifth.
Aaron Glickstein entered in relief with one on and two out in the third, and held East Islip scoreless until T.J. Montalbano took over in the sixth.
"Even down 4-0, I knew we had it in us," Tom DiGiorgi said. "The last two years, we've had a lot of comebacks."
Still, a walk and single off Montalbano set up runners at first and third with two outs in the seventh for East Islip (18-3).
"That brought back bad memories," the pitcher said, flashing back to the winning two-run triple he allowed to Rotunno on April 17, as East Islip went on to take two of three in the regular season.
Back to the present: A hard grounder up the middle nearly sneaked through, but shortstop Luke Stampfl lunged left to scoop it and hustled to second for the final out. Presto!
"For us to come back like that with a home run," Montalbano said, "it was just awesome. Breathtaking. Exciting."