John Ryan knew that win or lose, Thursday wasn’t going to be his final baseball game. The Wheatley ace and Hofstra commit has many games in front of him. But despite a strained oblique, he wasn’t going to miss taking the ball for a chance to win the Long Island Class B championship.
“I knew that this was big. I didn’t want to lose it for the seniors,” said Ryan, also a senior. “Even though I’m going to be playing, I know that this might be the last time they are playing, so I had to do it for them.”
After allowing two runs and four hits in the first two innings, Ryan retired 15 of the final 16 hitters, including 13 straight, in Wheatley’s 4-2 win over Center Moriches.
Wheatley (20-5), which won the Long Island title for the second time in four seasons despite managing only two hits, advanced to the regionals against Marlboro Central at noon Saturday at Farmingdale State College.
“He was hurt today, but he [bore] down like I’ve never seen before, like a bulldog,” Wheatley catcher Will Feil said. “He didn’t have his great stuff today, but we were able to find some things that worked and stuck with him.”
“He just toughed it out,” coach Paul Paino added. “I knew he didn’t want to come out. I would have had to drag him off the mound, bad side or not.”
Center Moriches (14-10) went ahead 1-0 when David Franchi scored on an error after beginning the game with a single. His first-pitch RBI single drove in Dylan Heinz in the second.
Liam Pulsipher didn’t allow a hit through five innings, but he walked three and hit a batter in the third inning for Wheatley’s first run. He fought back with two quick innings, but the game shifted in the sixth.
Evan Mattioli’s first-pitch single broke up Pulsipher’s no-hit bid. Mattioli stole second and, after back-to-back outs, Feil drove him in with a first-pitch single to right to tie it at 2. “As the captain, I’m the guy who’s supposed to be starting the rallies,” Mattioli said. “I’m the one who’s supposed to be rallying everyone up and I went up expecting to do that, and that’s what happened.”
After hitting back-to-back batters to load the bases, Pulsipher was lifted by CM coach Dennis Donovan. Wheatley took a 4-2 lead on RBI walks by Corey Seader and Eric Beierlein.
His Wildcats won the L.I. title, but how did Paino feel about his team having only two hits? “Good because [Ryan’s] pitching,” he said. “We can win a game with two as long as he’s out there.”