A game of inches? Sam Ilario needed a whole lot more than that to get a ball past Sachem North centerfielder Steven Foster.
The first time Ilario rocketed a ball to center -- in the ninth inning of West Islip's Suffolk Class AA second- round game Thursday -- Foster sprinted back and made a gasp-inducing diving catch on the backhand. The second time, with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the 10th, Foster turned around, turned on the thrusters, and "I was like, 'oh, no, not again,' " Ilario said. "I thought he was going to track it down."
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And then? "Then, I was like, 'Oh, thank God.' "
The double, a no-doubt shot to the wall that soared feet over the rangy Foster's head, drove in three runs as the No. 8 Lions strung together a five-run 10th to defeat No. 1 Sachem North, 12-8. Sachem North stays alive in the losers' bracket while West Islip travels to No. 4 Kings Park on Monday.
The game was tied at 7 in the seventh Wednesday before being called because of darkness, and picked up in the top of the eighth Thursday.
James Kory struck out to lead off the 10th, but reached first on a passed ball and later scored on a wild pitch to give the Lions (17-4) an 8-7 lead. With two outs, West Islip got three straight walks to set the stage for Ilario.
"I got up to the plate and I knew the situation: two outs. the bases loaded," Ilario said. "I had this feeling. It was my time. I knew, I knew I was going to get the big hit."
Emotions were only exacerbated by the wild beginning and the long layoff.
West Islip scored five runs in the fifth to take a 7-4 lead before the Flaming Arrows (17-3) clawed back with two runs of their own in the sixth. Mike O'Donnell's seventh-inning, two-out, RBI double sent the game to extra innings.
"I've never experienced anything like this before," Ilario said. "To come all the way out here twice, we couldn't go back with the loss."
Louis Antos, the pseudo-starter Thursday, said he spent all night Wednesday preparing for the game, calming his nerves and thinking over the scouting reports on Sachem North's big bats.
Antos, a sophomore, entered in the sixth Wednesday and was elated to get the call again. He allowed three hits and one run in three innings, and two of those hits and the run came with a five-run 10th inning lead.
"I iced up a lot, stretched . . . and I just sat down, listened to my music, and thought about everything I wanted to do [today]," Antos said. "And then I just settled down and threw strikes and it felt awesome."