Errol Parker had two plate appearances in 14 games this season. He struck out and walked. And as Half Hollow Hills West began a three-game series with East Islip to determine the Suffolk League IV baseball champion, Parker found his usual spot on the bench.
Only this day would be different. And plate appearance No. 3 would be one to remember.
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The junior centerfielder was summoned by coach Tom Migliozzi in the bottom of the second Tuesday to pinch hit for starting pitcher Brad Camarda.
With one out and runners on second and third, Parker stepped in the box and laced an RBI single to give Hills West a one-run lead on its way to a 3-1 win over East Islip in Dix Hills. Ryan Barone had a two-out, run-scoring single to make it 2-0 and Matt Feinstein added a solo home run in the sixth for the Colts (12-3, 10-3).
"I was more than a little surprised," Parker said. "It's my first varsity hit and it came at a great time for our team. I just want to contribute any way I can. I'm always ready and just happy that Coach had the confidence to put me in."
Migliozzi said he just had a good feeling about Parker and went with it to give him the at-bat. The decision was critical as the Colts struggled against East Islip's Mike Demarest, who allowed only four hits and struck out eight in six innings.
Demarest came in with a 5-0 record and a sub-1.00 ERA. He mixed a nasty slider with his fastball and struck out two in each of the first, fourth and fifth innings.
"Demarest has great mound presence and an excellent breaking ball," Migliozzi said. "He can beat anyone."
Owen McMenamy was one of the few Colts to get good swings on Demarest. He drilled a leadoff single in the third, moved to second on Feinstein's sacrifice and stole third. He was stranded there as Demarest recorded a strikeout and a weak groundout.
Meanwhile, Camarda cruised through three innings before running into trouble in the fourth. Bill Wharry singled but was erased on a force when second baseman Tyler Delucia made an outstanding stop on a ball headed for centerfield and flipped to shortstop Mike Marino.
"One of the top plays of the year without question," Migliozzi said.
Demarest followed with a single to put runners at first and second. Camarda was called for a balk, moving the runners into scoring position. He got a strikeout for the second out but walked Tyler Clehane to load the bases. A groundout to Delucia, who had six assists, ended the inning.
East Islip (11-4, 9-4) scored its run on Casey Krebs' single in the fifth. The Redmen threatened in the sixth when Clehane launched a one-out double and Joe Carrao followed with a single to put runners at the corners. Camarda got two pop-outs to escape the threat.
"Brad came up big on the mound," Parker said. "He usually does."