Nick Aurrichio fans two in relief to help Smithtown East win League III title
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Nick Aurrichio, a shortstop and short reliever for Smithtown East, sometimes gets short notice for his closing act.
The Bulls, after a six-run second inning Monday, were cruising against host West Islip. So much so that coach Ken Klee told Aurrichio, "I'm not sure we'll need you today."
So Aurrichio merely loosened up his arm with between-innings throws to first, not bothering to throw to a catcher when the Bulls were batting as he normally does in close games.
Then host West Islip, needing a victory to clinch a playoff spot in its final game, made things interesting in the sixth inning. The Lions scored once and loaded the bases, forcing Klee to summon his short-stopper.
Aurrichio allowed a two-run single, but stranded two runners in the sixth and again in the seventh, striking out the potential tying run twice to end the game as Smithtown East won, 7-4, to clinch its third Suffolk League III title in four years.
"It's a matter of him having the guts to take the ball in big spots," Klee said. "He's a competitor and he's come through every time for us this season."
Aurrichio has five saves and two wins in relief. He used a curve to freeze Dan Jagiello and a fastball to whiff Peter Vorilas as the Bulls enter the playoffs with a 14-6 mark. West Islip finished 10-10.
"There wasn't that much pressure today," said Aurrichio, who entered with a 7-2 lead but allowed a bases-loaded single to Travis Schindler to create a little late-inning stress.
"I like the pressure," Aurrichio said. "I always keep my arm warm and I'm always ready. I know the guys trust me at the end."
Aurrichio was in the middle of the early uprising. His bouncer with runners on second and third in the top of the second was misplayed for a two-out error that scored two and Matt Kelly followed with a homer that made it 7-0.
Dan Daley launched a homer to the same spot for West Islip in the bottom of the second, but the Lions didn't roar again until the sixth inning. Enter Aurrichio, the silencer.