It was a situation in which Garden City wanted to turn two in order to slow down Carey. Instead, the team turned three.
The Trojans pulled off a remarkable triple play in the sixth inning to blunt the Seahawks’ simmering rally and they held on for an 8-4 come-from-behind victory that clinched the Nassau A-II title.
Garden City (14-3, 12-1) put together a long series of good at-bats to score seven runs in the top of the sixth for the four-run lead. Carey (13-4, 9-4) looked like it would strike back it when opened the bottom of the frame with a walk and a single. But second baseman Stephen Baymack snared Kevin Bell’s sinking liner before it hit the ground, surprising both Seahawks baserunners. He found shortstop Tommy Reifler at second base ahead of one runner for the second out and Reifler threw a bullet to first baseman Jay Brown ahead of the other for the third.
“It was pretty low to the ground,” Baymack said. “I had to get it just before it hit the ground for us to have a chance to get both runners.”
“Off the bat, you’re not thinking triple play,” Reifler said. “I saw the line drive to Stevie and I knew he’d handle it. Once he threw it to me, I saw the runner was halfway down the line. There was time to get him. The rest is history.”
For Baymack, the play turned an eminently forgettable game into one to remember. In Carey’s two-run first he twice made miscues that may have prevented the Trojans from turning double plays. He also made an error in the second that opened the door for the Seahawks’ third run.
“[Stevie] showed the mental toughness he has, to come back from a start like he had and come through in a big spot like this — big game with the conference championship on the line,” Garden City coach Dave Izzo said. “There’s a lot of kids who might have carried it with them and turned it into a five-error game. I’m proud of him.”
“It feels great to have shaken off the [errors] and come back with a big play like that,” Baymack said.
Trojans starter Christian McGannon, who went the distance allowing three hits and striking out five, said the triple play was “a momentum changer” after he allowed the two runners to reach following Garden City’s long rally. He said it changed “the game so much . . . made it so much easier to relax, throw strikes and trust my team behind me.”
In the Trojans’ seven-run rally, the eyes had it. They scored the tying and go-ahead runs on bases-loaded walks by Chris Schwantner and Reifler. Andrew Zupicich capped it with a two-run single.
“We knew we needed to win one to win the conference and they needed to beat us three times,” Reifler said. “It let us be patient at the plate and have that inning. We knew the pressure was on them.”