Contributions to win baseball games can come in many ways. On Monday it was the defense of Hicksville centerfielder Greg Power and his perfectly executed squeeze bunt that keyed the Comets' 2-1 victory over Syosset in a Nassau Conference AA-I game.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Power neatly placed a 1-and-1 fastball down the first-base line to score Austin Mars and break a 1-1 tie.
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"It was a fastball up and away and I got my bat on it," Power said. "We practice bunting all the time."
The bunt helped the Comets (2-1, 1-1) score two unearned runs in the fifth against Syosset's lefthanded ace Jonathan Doyle.
With Hicksville trailing 1-0, Alex Pierce led off with a single, only the second hit off Doyle, and moved to second on Terrence Wong's sacrifice bunt.
"We needed to score there because Doyle was getting stronger as the game wore on," Hicksville coach Frank Ciaramitaro said. "We bunt scrimmage two or three times every week and we'd like to think we're well versed in it. Today, it worked out."
An infield error on Mars' grounder put runners at the corners with one out, and two pitches later, Mars broke to steal second. The catcher's throw eluded the middle infield and Pierce scored to tie it at 1 and Mars moved to third base, setting up Power's squeeze.
"We wasted a great pitching performance," Syosset coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "It was a very frustrating loss. We hit the ball hard and didn't score. One bad inning cost us."
The Hicksville defense gave soft-throwing junior righthander Cameron Melville plenty of support. Melville induced 16 outs in the air and five groundouts. He scattered six hits and walked one in a complete game.
"Cameron was always ahead of the hitters and very pitch efficient," Ciaramitaro said. "He pitches to contact and we have to play defense. He had one four-pitch inning."
Power hauled in five fly balls, including two that he ran down in the power alleys, and both corner outfielders had three putouts apiece. With one out in the sixth, Mars robbed Derek Spillane of an extra-base hit with an all-out dive on a ball lined into the gap.
"I went behind him to back up and he was coming hard," Power said. "It was a great catch."
Melville enjoyed that kind of defense all game. In the fourth inning, Hicksville third baseman Joe Sarni made a spectacular diving catch over the portable fence in foul territory for the second out.
Sarni's catch became all the more important when Spillane lined a two-out single and scored when Brett Stein lined a double down the rightfield line for a 1-0 lead.
"It prevented a bigger inning," Ciaramitaro said.
Doyle, who beat perennial playoff power MacArthur last week, was tagged with the loss in a 76-pitch outing. He allowed just three hits, walked two and struck out seven.
"It's a tough loss," Doyle said. "I found my rhythm and felt good. We'll learn from this and move on."