Vincent Pagano knew that every run would be crucial for the Commack baseball team against Massapequa, the defending state Class AA champions.
After Massapequa cut Commack’s four-run lead to just one, it was the catcher’s hustle in the bottom of the fourth inning that proved to be the turning point of the game.
With runners on first and third and two outs, relief pitcher Nick Goldberg uncorked a wild pitch. Pagano sprinted to the backstop and flipped the ball to his pitcher who made the tag at home plate for the final out of the inning. Pagano was just getting started. In the top of the fifth, he connected on a two-run homer to rightfield to put Commack ahead by three in a 13-5 win over host Massapequa in a non-league game Thursday.
“We know we have to hustle for everything and we put a nice tag on that kid,” Pagano said. “Coming up with that two-run shot gave us more fire and we just kept pushing through.”
Said Commack coach Bryan Bonin, “It’s not surprising he did that and I wouldn’t be surprised if any of our players came through like that because that’s the way we practice so when they get in the games, they feel comfortable.”
Commack put up a three-spot in the top of the first, as the first three batters all scored.
“In the beginning of the game we came out strong. We knew coming in that they were the defending state champs and we wanted to beat them,” Pagano said. “We put the ball in play and good things happened.”
Pagano finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs. Sean Coveny went 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and three runs, Kyle Murphy added a single and a double, and Joe Pelligrino and Anthony Foti each had two RBIs.
Coveny allowed four hits and an earned run in 3 2/3 innings and finished with three strikeouts.
“My confidence was really high after they gave me those three runs. I felt a lot more relaxed on the mound,” Coveny said. “They have a lot of good hitters over there so the only way to beat them is to mix it up and keep them off balance.”
Chris DeSousa had a pinch-hit homer in the sixth to bring the Chiefs within 2, but the Cougars put up a six-spot in the seventh to put the game out of reach.
“We knew we needed to prove something in this game,” Coveny said. “Last year when we lost to West Islip in the county semifinals, I think everyone started to doubt us a little bit, but we’re here to stay and we’re here to prove ourselves.”