It took tremendous restraint, but Dylan Judd laid off a low fastball and drew the biggest walk of his high school career.
Not that his career has been all that lengthy.
Batting with two outs and the bases loaded in a tie game that had reached the bottom of the eighth, the freshman battled back from a 1-and-2 count and walked to force in the winning run in fifth-seeded Oceanside's 3-2 win over sixth-seeded Syosset in Game 1 of their Nassau Class AA semifinal series Monday in Oceanside.
Syosset is scheduled to host Game 2 of the best-of-three series at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
When Judd first stepped into the box, he took an anxious check-swing on a high fastball out of the zone. He had played a key role in the Sailors' comeback from a 2-0 deficit, starting a two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh with a line-drive single to right, but this was different. This was a chance to win the game.
"He threw one high and I check-swung," he said. "Of course I went, but, I don't know, I was just a little nervous at first. I settled down."
Judd stepped out of the box, took a couple of deep breaths and looked to the third-base coach's box for encouragement from Mike Postilio.
He took two balls after falling into the 1-and-2 hole and then got a fastball down the middle. Judd swung and tipped it into the screen, leaving him frustrated that he had missed a chance to win the game but knowing he still was alive.
"That's baseball," he said. "I got another pitch. Luckily, it was down low. It took a lot of me to not swing at it."
The walk-off was Oceanside's second of the playoffs. John Condon's solo homer in the bottom of the seventh had given the Sailors a 1-0 win over 12th-seeded Herricks in the first round. But this was the first playoff game in which Oceanside needed a dramatic late comeback.
Syosset's Derek Spillane did not allow a run through 6 2/3 innings. The three times Oceanside threatened, he found a way out with his command. "He hits spots all day," Postilio said. "He threw his pitches where he wanted to throw them, which forces hitters to hit the ball where they want you to hit it."
But the seventh inning was different.
With two outs, Judd singled and scored on Brian DiDominica's double to deep center. Nick Vlahakis tied the score with a line-drive single that was just out of reach of a diving John Jaroslawski at first base.
"We've always been a team that comes from behind," said Matt Ferraro, who started and allowed two runs and two hits in six innings. "We fight. We always knew we had a chance."
Even with a freshman at the plate and the game on the line.
"There's no moment that's going to be too big of a moment for him to handle," Postilio said. "As a ninth-grader, that just shows the level of character he has."