Connetquot's James Higgins pitched five strong innings. (May 18, 2012)

Connetquot's James Higgins pitched five strong innings. (May 18, 2012) Credit: Alan J Schaefer

Connetquot has been a dominant baseball team all season and the Thunderbirds put on another show for their home fans Friday afternoon.

James Higgins struck out seven and allowed two runs on four hits and six walks in five innings and Anthony Schuler went 2-for-5 with three RBIs to lead No. 1 Connetquot in a 20-3 victory over No. 9 Hauppauge in a Suffolk baseball winner's bracket second round game. Connetquot (19-3) advances to the winner's bracket semifinals and will host No. 4 Smithtown East at 4 p.m. Monday.

Schuler's two-run single in the bottom of the third started a nine-run inning for the Thunderbirds, who blew the game open to take a 13-2 lead after three innings. Connetquot's rally was aided in part by a pair of Hauppauge errors and six walks.

"I just started the rally. My team really finished it off," said Schuler, who added another RBI in the sixth. "That's what we try to do. We don't try to just win, we try to bury a team and that's what we did today."

After breezing through the first inning, Higgins ran into trouble in the second and third.

A leadoff walk followed by a pair of singles loaded the bases for Hauppauge in the top of the second but the Thunderbirds nearly escaped unscathed as Higgins struck out the next two batters. He walked in two runs before getting another strikeout to end the second trailing 2-1.

The Eagles (15-7) had the bases loaded with one out in the third, but Higgins got out of that jam as well.

"I love when I'm in a pressure situation because I like to rise above," Higgins said. "I kept calm and got out of it and knew that my team would come and get some hits for me."

The Thunderbirds backed up their pitcher, adding a run in the fourth and six more in the sixth for the game's final margin.

Franco Testani went 1-for-4 with an RBI for Hauppauge (15-7), which hosts No. 10 Kings Park at 1 p.m. Saturday in a loser's bracket second round elimination game.