Jesse Russo's single gives Nassau win in all-star game
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The way the players celebrated their victory belied the fact that this was "just'' a postseason all-star game.
"We know each other and we consider this a rivalry. We really wanted to win, especially after last year,'' Nassau's Jesse Russo of Clarke said Monday night .
Russo singled to rightfield with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Nassau a 7-6 victory over Suffolk in the 10th Blue Chip Prospects Grand Slam Challenge at Farmingdale State College.
Suffolk won last year's game in extra innings, had led the series six games to three and had erased a 4-0 deficit with a five-run third inning that featured a six-hit barrage.
Smithtown Christian's Tim Gorton and Smithtown West's Peter Byrnes singled to start the rally, and Commack's Jesse Berardi drilled a two-run triple to dead center to cut the deficit to 4-2. Sam Ilario (West Islip) had an RBI single, Longwood's Chris Weiss doubled and Jack Piekos (Bayport-Blue Point) ripped a two-run single to center to put Suffolk on top 5-4.
Piekos also sliced a single to leftfield in the fifth, when Suffolk loaded the bases with none out but couldn't score.
Chris Reilly (Division) doubled home two runs in the first for Nassau. In the second, Wantagh's Zach Shindler doubled and scored on a triple by Chaminade's Dan Kerning before Russo hit a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0.
Luke Zeccola (Chaminade) led off the bottom of the sixth with a triple to center and scored on a grounder by Wantagh's Lou Doria to tie it at 5-5.
Doubles by Mike Colombi (Center Moriches) and Tyler Osik (Shoreham-Wading River) gave Suffolk a 6-5 lead in the seventh, but Kerning doubled with one out in the bottom of the inning and hustled home from second on a fly to deep right by Massapequa's Bobby Honeyman to tie it at 6.
That set the stage for Russo, who stepped to the plate with a runner on second and two outs in the ninth.
"I was just looking for a first-pitch fastball and tried to hit it hard,'' Russo said.
And that's just what he did, smashing a hard ground ball that went into rightfield to drive in the winning run.
Soon after, there was jubilation near the mound for the red-shirted winners.
The Nassau MVP was Kerning, who added a double to left-center in the seventh to his RBI triple to center in the second. He scored after both of his hits.
Berardi was named Suffolk MVP after going 2-for-3 with his ringing triple in the five-run third. The St. John's-bound shortstop also made three outstanding defensive plays.
The Rawlings Gold Glove Pitcher of the Game was Rocky Point's Frank Moscatiello, who tossed a scoreless third inning, striking out two.
"Just a great all-star game -- tied with two outs in the ninth,'' Nassau coach Tom Tuttle of Division said. "It's the perfect ending.''