There was no hesitation. Chris Pike was getting the ball to end this game.
With Southampton starting pitcher Ricky Wesnofske faltering in the sixth inning, Pike, the Mariners' ace, entered in relief Saturday on two days rest and closed out the Suffolk Class B championship game in a 7-2 win over visiting Center Moriches.
The score was 3-2 when Pike came in to face runners on second and third with two outs. Pike struck out the final batter in the top of the sixth and Southampton rallied for four runs in the bottom of the inning. In the seventh, Pike struck out the first two batters and induced a flyout to end the game and give top-seeded Southampton (18-4) a second straight county title.
After surrendering pitching duties in the sixth, Wesnofske hit a key, two-RBI double to left-centerfield to make it 5-2 in the seventh. The next batter, Vincent Abbate, hit an RBI triple to right-centerfield and Colin Buoniello added his fourth RBI of the day to cap the surge.
Then Pike - "The ultimate stopper," Buoniello said - finished it.
The senior righty, the team's No. 1 starter, is 9-0 this season with two no-hitters. On Wednesday he tossed his third one-hitter of the season in the semifinal against Hampton Bays. Pike started at shortstop Saturday.
"He goes, 'I want to close this,' " Southampton coach Jim Coady said. "That's what I wanted to hear. You can always count on him. Sometimes I have to pry the ball out of his hand."
"I wanted the ball in that situation," Pike said.
For much of the warm, sunny early afternoon in Southampton, it didn't appear his services would be needed. Wesnofske allowed only three hits through five innings, but in the sixth he walked three and hit a batter. Center Moriches scored twice in the inning after trailing 3-0.
"I was doing well, then I got tired a little bit and couldn't really throw my curveball for a strike," Wesnofske said. "But it felt good to redeem myself with that hit" to make it 5-2.
Buoniello, 3-for-4 in the game, put Southampton up 3-0 with a disputed three-run homer in the first inning. Center Moriches argued that the ball bounced over the see-through fence in centerfield for a ground-rule double, but after some discussion among the umpires, the home run call stood.
Southampton now has two championships in a row after winning its first county baseball title since 1978 last season.
"People took Southampton lightly for a long time," Coady said. "These guys wanted to turn that around."