Massapequa's Erik Paulsen clinched a sixth straight Nassau Class AA baseball championship with a grand slam and was named Newsday's Athlete of the Week. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday/Morgan Campbell

Erik Paulsen wanted to walk it off. He wanted the opportunity to send Massapequa to its sixth straight Nassau Class AA baseball title with a big hit in the bottom of the seventh inning of the county finals.

Paulsen had already crushed three home runs against Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK in the best of three series for the title. He was arguably the hottest hitter on Long Island this week.

Massapequa was down to its last out. Paulsen could have been their last man standing. Massapequa coach Tom Sheedy wouldn’t have wanted anyone else up in that situation.

Paulsen wasn’t sure if Plainview would pitch to him with the bases loaded and two outs in the third and deciding game.

“They had a mound visit to talk it over and I didn’t know what to expect,” Paulsen said. “But I guessed walking in a run was not a good option. So, they decided to pitch to me.”

Paulsen launched a 1-and-0 fastball toward the rightfield fence. As the ball climbed and the rightfielder retreated to jump at the fence, Paulsen paused.

 “I thought it was out,” he said. “And then it was. Oh man, the sickest, most incredible moment of my life.”

 The walk-off grand slam erased a 6-4 deficit and gave Massapequa the 8-6 win and the championship at Farmingdale State. Paulsen finished the series with four home runs and 10 RBIs.

For his accomplishments, Paulsen earned Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. The senior Stony Brook commit has enjoyed a phenomenal season from the mound to the plate. He’s 7-1 with an ERA of 0.83. He’s hitting .564 with nine home runs and 35 RBIs.

“I don’t think we’ve seen that kind of power display in the playoffs — ever,” Sheedy said. “For a split second I didn’t know if the rightfielder caught the ball or not. It was a high drive and pretty far, but I wasn’t sure it was gone until I saw the fans going ballistic. What a moment.”

Sheedy said Paulsen was the right guy in such an intense situation.

“Erik has developed into such an outstanding hitter,” Sheedy said. ‘He’s learned to wait for his pitch and uses the entire field. He’s a plus for us in so many different ways because of his athleticism and instinct on the field.”

Paulsen is so athletic, Sheedy has him starting at third base on days he doesn’t pitch. It is an oddity when fans see a lefthanded third baseman but for Sheedy it’s the best option for the Massapequa defense.

“He’s turned a few double plays and has a real feel for the position,” Sheedy said. “We needed him over there. He takes away the hole at shortstop and allows our shortstop to play the middle more efficiently. We run our bunt defense around Erik.”

Paulsen, the Nassau Conference AA-1 MVP and a Newsday All-Long Island selection, said he expects to play baseball at Stony Brook as a dual position player.

“I’m excited about playing ball at Stony Brook but I don’t really think they’ll need me at third base,” he laughed. “And I’m going to study the health sciences to be a physician’s assistant. It’s a lot to look forward to.”


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