Massapequa advances to Nassau Class AA semifinals

Massapequa's Eric Hassell is congratulated by teammates at

Massapequa's Eric Hassell is congratulated by teammates at home after hitting a solo home run in the top of the sixth. (May 15, 2013) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

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Massapequa diagnosed the problems Wednesday from the dugout -- a crafty pitcher with "sneaky fast" velocity, and plain old rough breaks.

The Chiefs found the solutions on the field: A letter-high fastball, Eric Hassell's soaring home run, and Brian Flecker's little bit of luck.

After a long succession of hard-hit balls produced only one run over five innings, the Chiefs, led by Hassell's solo shot and Flecker's RBI single just under the glove of a ranging shortstop, broke out for a four-run sixth en route to a 6-2 win over host Oceanside in Game 2 of the Nassau Class AA quarterfinals.

No. 4 Massapequa, which beat the fifth-seeded Sailors, 1-0, on Tuesday, moves on to semifinals Monday, against an opponent to be determined.

"Right as I hit that ball, I saw it, and it was like, 'Oooh, debatable play,' '' Flecker said of his grounder. "It sneaked through. I got lucky. We'll take it."

Patrick Healy and the Sailors' Jake Santamaria, both lefties, traded zeros until the top of the fifth, when Matthew Helford singled with two outs and came around to score on Bobby Honeyman's sharp single over the glove of a leaping shortstop.

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Massapequa (16-5) breezed through the bottom of the fifth before Hassell led off the sixth by launching Santamaria's first pitch past the leftfield wall. Santamaria was lifted three batters later, but his two inherited runners came around to score on Flecker's single and Matt Pagano's bases-loaded walk.

"I think seeing the pitcher three times obviously helps," coach Tom Sheedy said of the turn in fortune. "They kept saying he was sneaky-fast. He threw so many off-speed pitches and it kept you off-balance, because then he threw the fastball that you thought you could hit."

The same could be said for Healy, who fed the Sailors (15-8) a hefty diet of curveballs and changeups. He tossed a four-hitter with two strikeouts and allowed one earned run.

"I felt I was mixing up my pitches really well," the all-county senior said. "I'm not a strikeout pitcher, so really I was trying to have them get themselves out and not get myself out."

And after all that, it was just time to wait for the offensive breaks to come.

"We were doing the right things," Hassell said. "Sometimes, it happens that they don't fall in, but the time was going to come when they fell."

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