East Islip sophomore Nick Rizzo wanted the called third strike on Matt Torres to close out the first inning. The young pitcher didn’t get it. The borderline strike was called a ball.
And the next pitch was crushed to dead-center, a massive solo home run by Torres to give Harborfields an early lead.
But Rizzo didn’t flinch.
He belied his age and gathered himself to shut down a potent Tornadoes offense and yield just two hits and two runs over the final six innings as East Islip went on to a 14-3 win and claim the Suffolk Conference IV baseball championship in Islip Terrace on Friday.
East Islip (15-5) will meet Bethpage (17-2) at Mitchel Athletic Complex at 2 p.m. Sunday for the Long Island Conference IV title.
East Islip, which is on an eight-game win streak, captured its 11th Suffolk title, the last one coming in 2006.
Rizzo struck out eight and hit two batters to improve to 5-1 with a 0.67 ERA. The lefthander leads a staff that has allowed only 22 earned runs in 20 games.
"He’s so composed for such a young pitcher," East Islip coach Sal J. Ciampi said. "I knew he’d settle down after the home run. I also knew when he didn’t get the strikeout, he’d rebound and be fine."
East Islip took the lead with a four-run second inning. Nick Parrillo drew a walk and Jason Torres singled before Nick Rigugliosi moved the runners to second and third with a bunt.
Anthony DeSane had an RBI single to tie it and Ryan Ferremi lifted a one-out sacrifice fly to score Torres for a 2-1 lead. With two outs, Derek Burrell lined a run-scoring single and a fourth run scored on an outfield error for a 4-1 lead.
"Our offense has really come together and started to hit," said Ferremi, who added a home run and a double. "We put together a great inning there."
Harborfields took advantage of an infield error and Evan Ackerman drilled a two-out RBI triple to make it 4-2. He scored when Ryan Shih singled up the middle to get within one.
"It wasn’t my best outing, but I battled, and the run support was more than enough," Rizzo said. "I started to hit my spots and settle down."
East Islip blew the game open with a six-run fourth inning. The big blast came from Rizzo’s older brother and team leader, senior John Rizzo, who crushed a one-out, three-run triple off the base of the rightfield fence to make it 9-3.
Ferremi hit his sixth home run for one of two runs in the fifth and Burrell added a two-run single in the sixth.
"We knew we were good but with no preseason, we got off to a slow start, losing five games by a total of six runs," Ciampi said. "It’s been a great run with an excellent group of players."