Brendan Haas has found comfort in the seemingly uncomfortable.
“Out there, I felt great,” Haas said. “It was a spot I was familiar with.”
That familiarity comes from pitching in the same game with the same stakes one year prior, nearly to the date.
For the second straight season Haas pitched Wantagh to a championship, as the No. 9 Warriors defeated No. 4 Garden City, 4-2, in Game 3 of the Nassau Class A final at SUNY-Old Westbury on Tuesday.
Last season, Haas was given the ball for Wantagh Game 3 of the county final and he delivered a victory and a title.
“It’s incredible,” coach Keith Sachs said. “He just gets the ball and throws it. He’s a strike machine. He just loves being in this environment and he thrives in it. He proved it.”
Haas tossed a complete game, surrendering five hits with one walk and allowing only one batter to reach base safely after the third inning to lead Wantagh to its first back-to-back county titles in school history, Sachs said.
“I was just excited,” Haas said. “I knew I had to come out and throw strikes and my team would be behind me.”
After Jake Castellano’s second double of the game sent Charlie Interrante to third base with the score tied at 2 in the sixth inning, Anthony D’Onofrio delivered the go-ahead single up the middle to give Wantagh a 3-2 lead.
“I’ll take him up there with the game on the line any day,” Sachs said.
John Conroy executed a squeeze bunt one pitch later to extend the lead to 4-2.
Garden City (20-6-1) took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Kenny McCadden’s two-run single to drive in Garrett Going and Rich Marooney.
Wantagh (21-5) tied the score in the fourth on Trevor Fagan’s solo home run followed by Castellano’s RBI double to drive in Steven Forman, who pinch ran and remained in right field, after Patrick Willix’s single.
“We were down 2-0 but we’ve been here before,” D’Onofrio said. “We knew not to put our heads down. We knew we were in the game the whole time and it’s a great feeling. Two years in a row.”
Wantagh (21-5), the defending Class A state champions, will play Suffolk A champion Shoreham-Wading River (24-1) Saturday at SUNY-Old Westbury at noon with the winner advancing to the state semifinals in Binghamton.
“It’s everything for us — for me and the other seniors,” Fagan said. “All the hard work we’ve put in the winter paying off for us. There’s no better feeling in the world.”