Brock Murtha and Sayville finally broke through, and they did it with flair.
Murtha pitched a no-hitter and the Golden Flashes eked out a run on Jack Davis’ seventh-inning single for a 1-0 victory over Clarke in the Long Island Class A baseball championship game on Saturday night at SUNY-Old Westbury. It is the first Long Island title for the Sayville baseball program.
Murtha, Sayville’s junior ace, fired a fastball for a called third strike with his 98th pitch, threw his glove high into the air and was mobbed on the third-base side of the mound by his teammates and a throng of students who poured out of the stands.
“I didn’t even know it was a no-hitter until I heard someone say it in the pile,” Murtha said. “I don’t think it can get any better than this. My teammates are my closest friends and I’ve been playing with them since I was little. For us to do this together is the best feeling in the world.”
Sayville (21-6-1) will meet Ballston Spa (22-2) in a 5 p.m. state semifinal on Friday at Union-Endicott High School just outside of Binghamton.
Murtha, who has committed to play baseball at Notre Dame, prevailed in an inspiring pitching duel against Rams senior righthander Brendan Turton. Murtha allowed two walks, hit two batters and struck out nine. Turton allowed one run and seven hits.
In the top of the seventh inning, Davis’ liner barely eluded diving second baseman Nick Campagnuolo, driving in Nick Buffardi from second base to give Murtha the run he needed.
“What more can you say about a player who throws a no-hitter in the Long Island championship game?” Sayville third-year coach Joe Esposito said. “To come here and do what he did tonight on the biggest stage and in front of the biggest crowd we’ve seen — it shows you how capable he is of greatness. For my money, he’s the best player on Long Island.”
“There’s a reason that Notre Dame wants that kid,” Clarke coach Tom Abruscato said. “We put some barrels on the ball, but they kept running them down.”
For Clarke (24-4-1), Turton dealt with traffic on the bases in every inning except the fifth and made all the big pitches until Sayville eked out that seventh-inning run.
He got out of the second inning with runners at first and second by throwing a breaking pitch for a strikeout. He escaped the fourth inning with a runner at third by inducing an inning-ending groundout. It was runners on first and second again in the sixth when he got a flyout to keep the Golden Flashes off the board.
Turton issued a one-out walk to Buffardi in the seventh and C.J. Messina pushed a hard bunt down the first-base line on which Clarke had no play. Turton got a flyout before Davis laced what proved to be the game-winning hit.
I was sending him no matter what,” Esposito said. “They were going to have to make a play at the plate and fortunately it wasn’t that close. We hit the ball but we hadn’t found the hole. Thank God we found a hole.”
“I just reached out for it and got enough,” Davis said. “It barely got by him.”
Murtha said that with all the threats Sayville mounted and did not convert on, “I was having a little bit of a heart attack on the bench — [Turton] was amazing the way he kept putting up zeros.”
In almost any no-hitter, there will be defensive plays that stand out. The two most memorable were by centerfielder Thomas Nielsen, who tracked down drives by Pavlos Papoutsakis and Tyler Cox. “[Nielsen] has been my best friend since maybe we were 5 years old,” Murtha said. “He really had our backs today.”