At 5-8, 145 pounds, Kail McLean II is not the biggest player on the diamond. But his personality and production certainly don’t reflect that.
Before Bellport’s baseball matchup with undefeated Hauppauge Thursday, Clippers coach Bill Batewell switched McLean from his usual No. 2 or No. 9 lineup spot to cleanup after back-to-back shutout losses.
“We had to shake it up, just shake it up and make something good happen,” Batewell said. “And fortunately for us, something good did happen.”
After Hauppauge scored three runs with two outs in the top of the seventh inning to tie the score, McLean batted with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the inning — and on an 0-and-2 pitch, he grounded a walk-off single to leftfield to give the Clippers a 7-6 Suffolk V win.
“I was just going up there ready to get the win,” McLean said. “Ready to make contact. Ready to get the run in.”
The combination of McLean and the bases loaded haunted the Eagles throughout the game. After Garrett Heaton’s RBI single in the third, McLean came up three batters later with two outs and the bases loaded. He lined a three-run triple to rightfield and scored on Jason Murray’s single to give Bellport a 5-0 lead.
“It brought us up,” McLean said. “People were feeling down and there were two outs and the triple just got us up and going again.”
After Hauppauge left the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth, Bellport (3-5) entered the seventh leading 6-3, but Hauppauge (8-1) wasn’t going to let its undefeated streak end easily. After Bellport’s Joe Greco retired the first two batters, Devin Jenny singled and scored on Blake Adamo’s triple off the rightfield fence. Brandon Mannarino lined an RBI single and stole second. After Eric Stapleton worked a walk, No. 9 hitter Brett Boller singled to right to tie it at 6.
Similar to Hauppauge, Bellport’s final rally started with two outs and no one on. Heaton reached on an error, Mike Veit worked a walk and Greco singled to left to load the bases for McLean.
Veit recorded the win after retiring the only batter he faced in the top of the seventh.
“We know that if anything comes down to this,” Greco said, “we can just keep fighting and come back from anything.”
After a slow start, Bellport hopes to carry the success from this win to the rest of the year.
“We’re treating every game like a playoff game now,” Heaton said, “and to be able to end their undefeated streak is great. We are just trying to turn things around from here.”