Sanders Shanks stood in the on-deck circle and thought about his impending at-bat. The Babylon third baseman and teammate Ricky Negron had studied the arm angle and velocity of Oyster Bay pitcher Joe Siringo and thought "this is the inning we can get to him."
Siringo has been masterful through five innings. The Baymen senior had no-hit Babylon and struck out six as his team built a two-run lead. But as Shanks walked to the plate in the top of the sixth, the no-hit bid was gone and the Panthers had loaded the bases with one out.
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"I said to myself, so how do you want to end your high school career," Shanks said. "What is your last at-bat going to be?"
Shanks made it a memorable at-bat for all the right reasons. He drilled a one-out, two-run single to centerfield to tie the score at 3 and ignite a four-run rally as Babylon downed Oyster Bay, 5-3, to claim the Long Island Class B baseball title Monday. It was Babylon's first Long Island championship since the school won the state baseball crown in 2007.
The Panthers will host the winner of the Section I/IX regional in a state quarterfinal Tuesday at East Hampton High School at 4 p.m.
"I hit a 2-0 fastball right back up the middle," Shanks said. "I wanted to have a productive at- bat."
Babylon (21-2) couldn't manage a hit against Siringo through the first five innings but did score a run on a throwing error and defensive breakdown. Siringo fielded a bunt and threw wildly over the head of first baseman Dillon Robinson. With no one backing up the play, Matt Finelli turned the play into a three-base error. He would score on a Zach Carmody sacrifice fly to leftfield to cut the deficit to 3-1.
"We're a team that believes in each other and we battle back all the time," said winning pitcher Max Watt, who made a name for himself playing with Hank's Yanks over the summer and continued that success with a 9-0 high school season. "Whether it's Hank's Yanks or Babylon, we all learned to put adversity behind us, trust each other and move forward. I was in some jams early on but was able to limit the damage and keep us in the game."
Watt, who will attend Hillsborough Community College, scattered eight hits, allowed three earned runs, walked two and struck out eight. He settled down after working out of a bases-loaded jam in the third inning and retired 12 of the final 15 batters.
It was a bittersweet end to a fabulous high school career for Siringo, who allowed five hits, four earned runs, walked three and struck out seven in the loss. Siringo finished his career with a 21-2 record.
"He was very tough early in the game," said Shanks, who will attend Cortland State. "But we never gave up or lost confidence."
And now Babylon is a champion.