East Meadow needed an answer for Nassau II-AA rival Port Washington on Thursday. Sean Kennedy was its solution.
The Jets had managed only two runs and six hits as it dropped the first two games of the teams’ three-game regular-season series. The hitting wasn’t all that much better in the finale, but the junior righthander’s crafty pitching and the East Meadow defense found a way to make a bases-loaded walk and a pair of sacrifice flies produce a 3-2 win at the Jets’ Sicoli Field.
Kennedy’s entire game looked in doubt momentarily as he was lying on the ground after taking a pitch off his batting helmet and neck in the third inning. But he proved to be all right and his pitching was better than that the rest of the way as he limited the Vikings in a five-hit complete game.
“It clipped the helmet and went into my neck. I’ve had concussions before and this didn’t feel like that,” Kennedy said. “It was stiff the rest of the game [and] I had to work around that, but I didn’t want to come out at all.”
Kennedy is 4-0 with two saves for the Jets and coach John Marciante said “he’s been a big factor for us all season and never more than today.”
The Jets (10-2, 7-2) and Vikings (10-2, 7-2) both trail Hicksville (10-2-1, 8-0-1) and both have three games left with the Comets.
“This is just huge. It’s a 15-game season, which means that if you fall more than a couple of games behind, it’s hard to make up that ground,” Marciante said. “They have the tiebreaker on us now, but our records are the same and anything can happen.”
“There was no question: we had to want it more today after the last two,” catcher Dylan Pohl said.
East Meadow scored twice in the third on Pohl’s sacrifice fly and Dylan McDonnell’s RBI walk. Port Washington got one back in the fourth when Sean Meth (3-for-3) tripled and scored on Aaron Klug’s single and tied it on the fifth as Derek Livingston doubled and scored on a single by Jackson Sattinger, who also made a stellar diving catch in center with two aboard to end the second inning.
Robert Wakely’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth drove in Daniel Molina with the go-ahead run.
“We are struggling with the bats right now and struck out 27 times in the first two games,” Marciante said. “Until they come back around, you have to do the little things. You have to hit behind the runners and get those sac flies.”
And play defense. The Jets turned a double play and got big defensive plays from third baseman Charlie Cucchiara and rightfielder Tyler Patterson in the sixth after Port Washington got the tying run to third with one out. “They made all the plays,” Kennedy said.
In the seventh, Kennedy recorded two of his three strikeouts. “It was in reach and I went closer mode,” he said. “I gave everything I had left. I just emptied it.”