The two main pillars of the Mount Sinai baseball team’s success this season have been strong pitching and solid defense. But when those two factors crumbled a bit on Sunday, the Mustangs’ offense didn’t.
Mount Sinai cranked out 12 hits and scored in every inning after the second before holding on for a wild 8-6 victory over Island Trees in the Long Island Conference V championship game at the St. Joseph’s College Athletic Complex.
The game featured a combined 14 runs and 20 hits, a 27-minute delay for a rules interpretation and a scoreboard that went out (briefly) not once but twice in the sixth inning.
"We’ve been relying on pitching and defense our entire year, and this is the one game where our bats had to bail us out," Mustangs coach Eric Reichenbach said. "Thank God they came alive when they did."
After Island Trees (17-4) scored three runs in the top of the fifth to tie the score at 5, Derek Mennechino smashed a double to leftfield that brought home pinch runner Sean Erdmann to give Mount Sinai (19-2) a 6-5 lead. Eighth-grader Benny Franquiz singled and stole second to put runners on second and third with one out. Franquiz, the No. 9 hitter, was 2-for-3 with two stolen bases and a run scored.
Joe Valenti sent a fly ball toward Island Trees rightfielder Jonathan Uzzo, who made a great diving catch for the second out. Mennechino scored on the sacrifice fly, but a pinch runner was ruled to have not tagged up properly at second base for the third out.
The Island Trees coaching staff asked for an appeal to see if the out occurred before the run scored (which would mean it wouldn’t have counted). The umpires met for nearly a half-hour. A state baseball rules interpreter was contacted by phone and the umpires’ ruling was deemed correct to make it 7-5.
Island Trees’ Connor Waiting (3-for-3) had an RBI single in the top of the sixth to bring his team within 7-6. But the Mustangs, as they had done throughout the afternoon, had an answer on offense as JT Caruso finished the scoring with an RBI single.
Reliever Chris Batuyious, who entered the game with none out in the fifth, struck out the side in the seventh and stranded runners on second and third to earn the win and give Mount Sinai its first Long Island baseball title.
"Everyone got really mad [during the 27-minute delay], so there was a lot of pressure on me," Batuyious said. "But I just had to go out there and shut them down."