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Massapequa, West Islip set to square off in LI title game

West Islip's Nick Arnold delivers a strike during

West Islip's Nick Arnold delivers a strike during the Suffolk Class AA baseball final between West Islip and Half Hollow Hills West on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. (Credit: Alan J Schaefer)

There’s been a lot of time this week for Griffin Sullivan to take in what some of his predecessors have been saying.

As Massapequa prepares to take on West Islip in the Long Island Class AA Championship, Sullivan really liked what he heard from Matt Prokopowicz.

The former All-American at Hofstra, who starred at third base for the Chiefs’ undefeated state championship team in 2006, told Sullivan to treat the game like any other.

“Everyone’s told us that we’ve got to keep our emotions intact coming off the bus,” said Sullivan, Massapequa’s cleanup hitting first baseman. “The lights are going to be shining. They keep implying that it’s just another game. We’ve got to stay within ourselves.”

It should come as no surprise that the Lions feel the same way heading into this weekend’s title game, which takes place at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Farmingdale State.

“We’re just trying to stay loose,” West Islip coach Shawn Rush said. “We’ve preached all year long to do things together and play mistake-free baseball. That’s when we’re tough to beat.”

West Islip (20-5) and Massapequa (18-7-1) will have had nine days off before facing each other.

“I don’t think any baseball coach wants that many days off, but that’s the schedule,” Chiefs coach Tom Sheedy said. “When we step on the field and they step on the field, I’m sure both teams will be ready to play.”

Lions' ace righthander Nick Arnold said he’s not sure what the lineup will look like at this point, but that whoever gets put in the lineup is going to be ready to play.

“We’ve been waiting to play,” said Arnold, who is 8-1 with a 1.05 ERA with 62 strikeouts and a save. “Guys are ready. When you get this far, you just play your hardest and see what happens.”

The Chiefs are making their second consecutive appearance in the Long Island title game, seeking to erase the memory of last season’s 1-0 loss to Ward Melville.

“Without a doubt, it left a bitter taste. We still think about it,” said Sullivan, a first-year starter. “Right now, we’re focusing on Sunday. Treating every practice like it’s a game.”

Arnold, a three-year starter, said the key will be commanding the zone.

“We’ll be alright,” Arnold said. “Throw strikes, get ahead on batters and let the defense make the plays.”

Tags: Massapequa , West Islip , Griffin Sullivan , Nick Arnold , Shawn Rush , Tom Sheedy

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