Ryan Cunningham's smart baserunning paid off early -- and in a big way -- for MacArthur yesterday.

Cunningham, on first base and a Generals teammate on third, broke for second trying to draw a pickoff throw.

Oceanside's pitcher threw home instead, and the Sailors catcher held onto the ball, giving Cunningham second base.

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Now with runners on second and third, and two out, junior Jared Wolfe hit a two-run single for No. 2 MacArthur (20-6).

That made four runs on three hits and three errors to put the Generals ahead by two runs in the top of the second, and they held on for a 4-3 victory to win the Nassau AA crown at Farmingdale State.

The Generals last won the county title in 1994, a lifetime ago for everybody on the roster, except coach Steve Costello, the winning coach then, too.

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Playing it safe was understandable, even necessary because fifth-seeded Oceanside (18-9) had just committed three errors in short order.

"It pretty much won us the game," Cunningham said of the second-inning outburst. "We got in a two-run hole, then we got four runs and that was pretty much the game."

MacArthur sophomore Bobby Lewis went the distance and earned the victory. He had five strikeouts, allowed only one walk and reached base once himself on a walk.

After the second inning, both teams had a seemingly equal amount of baserunners and momentum.

The difference was ultimately defense and poise.

"I've pitched in important games, but it's never been something like this," Lewis said. "If we would've lost, we would've been devastated. This win feels amazing."

Costello said Lewis' curveball has become a legitimate varsity option. He credited his pitcher but recognized that the opposition's errors were a key to victory.

"It's a part of high school baseball and we were able to take advantage of it," he said. "Certainly we've been on the other end of that plenty of times.

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"High school baseball . . . that's all I can say about that."