Joe Piscitelli is a handful.

"He runs like a professional," Division coach Tom Tuttle said. "Once he gets going, we go. Joe goes, we go."

And he was off from the first at-bat Saturday.

The Blue Dragons' leadoff hitter started the game with a walk, stole second base and took third when North Shore's Connor Hehn attempted to pick him off base. He scored on Anthony Papa's sacrifice fly. This was the beginning of things to come.

Division, the No. 1 seed and defending county champion, defeated No. 3 seed North Shore, 14-3, in Game 1 of the best-of-three Nassau Class A finals at Farmingdale State College. Game 2 will be Monday at 7 p.m. at Farmingdale State.

Piscitelli filled the stat sheet, going 3-for-3 with four RBIs, four steals and three runs scored.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Last season, Piscitelli was the designated hitter in the county championship and didn't run often because of a hamstring injury. Now, the senior is looking to make the most of his opportunities back on the field.

"My coach lets me be aggressive," Piscitelli said. "He gives me a lot of freedom. He trusts me."

Division (24-4) broke the game open with a 10-run fifth inning to take a 14-2 lead. Piscitelli started the barrage and had two hits in the inning. Fifteen Blue Dragons came to the plate and six players had hits. James Varela had an RBI double and RBI single in the inning.

"Going into the county finals, you don't expect to play in a game like this," Papa said. "You expect it to be 3-1, 4-1, a close game, a game-winning hit at the end of the game. Blowing it open like that is huge. It gives everyone a nice sense of relaxation."

With Papa on the mound, Division players and coaches could relax. Papa, who admitted to having some "setbacks" this season, said he felt "back in the groove." He allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings for the win.

"I haven't talked to Anthony all year," Tuttle said. "That's the kind of confidence I have in him. I just let him pitch. I let him do his thing."

Tyler Epple went 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs and Dan Lodato was 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI for Division.

Piscitelli also said he didn't expect to play in a lopsided game, but he knows North Shore (20-5) isn't going to give up in the series.

"[The win] puts less pressure on us, but they are a good team," Piscitelli said. "They are going to fight back."

But first the Vikings will have to slow down Piscitelli -- something Piscitelli has no intention of doing.