The Suffolk County Community College baseball team will have one final opportunity to again punch its ticket to the Junior College World Series in Greeneville, Tenn.
The host Sharks dropped Game 2 of the District F Championship Series to Northern Essex Community College, 3-2, in nine innings on Saturday.
Trailing 2-0 entering the bottom of the ninth inning, Northern Essex rallied for three runs off Suffolk starter Joseph Murphy to force the rubber game Sunday at 1 p.m. at Suffolk-Selden. A trip to the national tournament beginning May 27 hangs in the balance.
Murphy allowed three hits through eight innings and finished with nine strikeouts in a complete game. Nicholas Siragusa’s ninth-inning single drove in Mattew Stepnoski to give Suffolk (26-11-1) a 2-0 advantage.
Ryan Collins cut the deficit to 2-1 with no outs on an RBI single for Northern Essex (25-12-1). Xavier Nunez drove in the tying and winning runs with a one-out, two-run single through the right side to force Game 3.
The loss marked the first loss of the season for Murphy (6-1).
“He pitched an outstanding game today,” Suffolk coach Eric Brown said. “He kept them off balance all day.”
Brown announced that freshman lefthander Joseph Mattero (8-0) will start the deciding game. Mattero compiled a 1.85 ERA this season, notching 39 strikeouts in 39 innings.
Brown had a simple message for the team after an emotional defeat.
“Tomorrow’s another game,” Brown said. “That’s the great thing about baseball.”
Game 1 also ended in dramatic fashion. With the scored tied at 4 in the 11th, Suffolk’s Shawn Blasberg drove in Ronald Linsalato with a walk-off, two-out single to rightfield.
The Sharks are seeking to improve on their one win in 2016’s JUCO World Series, but Brown said his team already has accomplished a great deal this season.
“Win or lose,” he said, “I think we’ve shown everyone who this program is.”