Talk about home-field advantage. The West Islip baseball field is conducive to lefthanded hitters. The rightfield fence is only 248 feet away and a little shorter than that down the line.
It is a lefthanded hitter’s dream. The idea is to get a little lift and launch a few home runs over that short porch.
Commack’s hard-throwing righty Trevor Rosenlicht struggled to find the strike zone and walked the first three batters in the bottom of the first. Reliever Sean Coveny came on with the bases loaded and no outs.
He hung an 0-and-2 curveball to cleanup hitter Tommy Parson, who crushed a grand slam in West Islip’s 7-2 win over Commack Thursday in Game 1 of a Suffolk Class AA semifinal.
“He got ahead of me right away,” Parson said. “At that point it was just see it and hit it. And we have a nice little porch out there in rightfield and I hit it really good.”
The teams will play Game 2 of the best-of-three series in Commack at 4 p.m. Friday.
“That’s why we play for the highest seed because it’s comfortable to play at home,” West Islip coach Shaun Rush said. “Tommy hit that one well but who knows maybe on some open fields it’s a long sacrifice fly. But not here and that’s all that matters.”
With the score 4-1, West Islip extended the lead in the second. Coveny retired the first two batters and struck out Jimmy Loeffler but the third strike eluded the catcher, allowing Loeffler to reach safely. The Lions capitalized when Anthony Ippolito doubled, putting runners on second and third.
After Parson was intentionally walked to load the bases. Mike LaDonna lined a two-run single and Anthony Cinquemani drilled a run-scoring single to make it 7-1.
“We do all the little things that make a difference in these games,” Rush said. “Loeffler struck out and instead of hanging his head he sprinted to first.”
Coveny retired nine of the next 10 batters before he left with two outs in the fifth.
“I thought their guy kept them in the game,” Rush said. “He did a real good job.”
LaDonna, the West Islip starter, worked his way out of trouble in the first and fourth against the potent Commack lineup.
In the fourth, Commack loaded the bases with two outs, before Tim McHugh walked to force in a run and make it 7-2. With a 3-and-0 count on the next hitter, Cinquemani sneaked in behind McHugh, who had taken a big lead. LaDonna spun and picked off McHugh to end the inning.
“Huge play, perfectly timed and we got him,” LaDonna said. “We practice pickoffs all the time. And we needed it there.”
LaDonna went six-plus innings, struck out six, allowed four hits, four walks, three hit batsmen and one earned run to get his sixth win.
“He gutted it out,” Rush said.