Dylan Johnson is officially an escape artist.
The Newfield senior pitcher found himself in quite the predicament in the top of the sixth inning against Eastport-South Manor on Wednesday.
The Sharks, trailing by a run, opened the inning with three straight singles from Drew McGowan, Jake Deslauriers and Peter DeVito to load the bases.
Johnson never wavered. He got ahead in the count on Derek Masino and induced a 1-2-3 double play. Then he struck out Tristan Gatchalian on a wicked curveball to end the threat.
Newfield’s Mike Medina added a one-out, two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning and the Wolverines beat Eastport-South Manor, 4-1, in the semifinal round of the Suffolk Conference III baseball playoffs in Selden. Newfield (16-3) will make its first trip to the county championship and will host West Islip for the title on Friday.
Eastport-South Manor finished the season at 11-9.
"Dylan is the guy you want in such a pressure situation," said Newfield coach Eric Joyner. "He’s so mentally tough."
Johnson allowed six hits and struck out six for his sixth win.
"I just felt we would get out of the jam," he said. "Eastport had some good swings and I had to bear down and get outs. And the key really was the ability to throw any pitch because I have so much confidence in my catcher [Medina] blocking the ball."
Medina was like a wall behind the plate. He blocked at least two off speed pitches in the inning with a runner on third.
"We practice every day blocking pitches and sacrificing our body," Medina said. "You go to work when you catch."
Eastport-South Manor reached Johnson for three singles in the first inning for a 1-0 lead. DeVito’s line drive to left scored DesLauriers, who’d reached on a fielder’s choice, and stole second base. The Sharks were hitless over the next four innings as Johnson settled into his rhythm. Newfield’s second baseman Evan Rodriguez robbed DeVito of another hit when he made a diving stop on a ball up the middle and made a great throw to first base for the first out of the fourth inning.
"We had a great approach and we hit the ball well against a Division I pitcher," said Eastport-South Manor coach Jim McGowan. "The double play in the sixth was a backbreaker but Masino has been our hottest hitter all season. Johnson made his pitches when he needed them the most."
Newfield tied the game in the bottom of the first when leadoff man Joe Hackal lined a single to center and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Bartho. With two outs, Johnson drilled an RBI single to score Hackal. In the third led off with a walk and Bartho moved him to second with another sacrifice bunt. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored when Johnson lifted a sacrifice fly to make it 2-1.
"Dylan is the best player on Long Island," Medina said. "He did it all today."