After taking a knee to the face and suffering a broken nose with a plethora of blood, most high school players would be looking for an ice pack and a seat on the bench.
But Mount Sinai junior George Rainer has been through much worse.
Until age 11, Rainer dealt with double vision, requiring strabismus surgery. Until then, he would tilt his head to the left in the batter’s box to see clearer.
“If I think about that surgery,” Rainer said, “I’d be a lot more nervous about that than any baseball game.”
That ability to withstand nerve-wracking moments paid dividends last week when Rainer had not one, but two walk-off hits against Bayport-Blue Point, one on Monday April 3 and another just a few days later on Friday and has been named Newsday’s Athlete of the Week.
“That doesn’t happen very often, I can tell you that,” coach Eric Reichenbach said. “Just one walk-off base hit is a tremendous accomplishment and a great feeling but getting two in a matter of three games in a big deal.”
Both of Rainer’s walk-off hits came in extra innings, with an eighth-inning bases-loaded single Monday resulting in the game’s lone run and his RBI single in the ninth inning Friday giving the Mustangs an 8-7 win in a game in which he went 4-for-5.
“I had a lot more confidence in the third game because I hit the walk-off off the same kid,” said Rainer, who credited his teammates for getting into the position to make his walk-off hits possible. “I knew he was coming right at me with a fastball.
“It felt a lot better than the first one. Two in one week is special.”
His second walk-off hit came two days after suffering a broken nose trying to steal third in Wednesday’s Game Two. Rainer didn’t even have his nose looked at until Tuesday.
“The kid’s such a gamer,” Reichenbach said of the catcher. “He won’t let me take him out of the game and he actually hit better with a possible broken nose.”
Rainer, who plays ice hockey, said he never considered exiting the game or not playing the following one. “It wasn’t on my mind at all,” he said. “That was a must-win game for us because we couldn’t start out the season 1-5 so we had to win that game so I was just concerned about winning that game.”
Rainer, a junior hitting better than .400 in his third season on varsity, played for last season’s Suffolk Class A championship team. He said he felt more pressure in those at-bats than his walk-off opportunities last week and those experiences helped his composure.
And he hopes the Mustangs (2-5) can use taking the series against Bayport-Blue Point to turn their season around. And maybe ease the pain on his nose.
“It helped a lot,” Rainer said. “Walk-off wins help you feel good and they help you get hot.”