Four times Plainedge put two runners on base against South Side's hard-throwing lefthander Andrew Misiaszek. And four times Misiaszek slammed the door in the Red Devils' faces, stranding all eight baserunners.
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But in the seventh, the host Red Devils turned a knock-knock, knock-knock joke into a knockout punch line delivering three two-out hits off reliever Sal Miranda, the last a fly-ball double off the right-centerfield fence by Nolan Matthews to stun the Cyclones, 4-3, Monday in a marquee Nassau A-II matchup.
Both teams are now 8-2, with two more games against each other this week.
"That ball was in the air a long time. The wind helped it a little," Plainedge coach Colin Fratrik said. "But Nolan has been a hot hitter lately and I had a lot of confidence in him."
Matthews had delivered two line-drive singles off Misiaszek earlier, but in the sixth was one of the lefty's 11 strikeout victims. Misiaszek struck out the side in the first, struck out two in the third and left two aboard in the fourth with an inning-ending whiff.
But all those strikeouts, plus eight hits through six innings elevated Misiaszek's pitch count, which made Fratrik hopeful entering the seventh. "He was tough. He had all four pitches going, but our game plan was to make him work," Fratrik said. "We had opportunities and I thought we were getting to him."
Miranda relieved Misiaszek in the seventh with one out and two on via walks. He got the first batter to bounce into a fielder's choice but could not get another out. Vinny Aschentino singled to make it 3-1. Richie Whalen laced a 3-and-1 pitch off third base and down the leftfield line for a two-run double that tied it. "It was a new pitcher who didn't throw as hard. I was waiting for a good fastball and wasn't going to chase the junk," Whalen said.
Matthews then stepped in, "just looking to put the ball in play." The Red Devils' leftfielder said the team was confident entering the last inning, even though they hadn't produced a come-from-behind victory all season. "Seeing all those guys on base, something was bound to happen," Whalen said.
He made it happen by taking a fastball to the opposite field. "I was just hoping it would fall," he said.
It almost fell for a home run, landing high off the red fence and just out of reach of leaping centerfielder Kyle Shutkind.
Whalen's double made a winner out of Pat Reilly, who pitched a complete game, allowing eight hits, including three to Tom Mormando (two RBIs). It was also the first walk-off hit of Whalen's high school career.
Don't knock it.