As Jack Aughavin led off the bottom of the eighth inning with the score tied, a familiar anticipation swept over the home crowd at North Shore.
After all, these were the same Vikings who had won two of their first three playoff games in walk-off fashion.
Aughavin, a .412 hitter, was simply trying to spark a rally with a hit.
"I'm just looking for a single in that spot," the senior leftfielder said. "Just trying to square it up."
Aughavin did that, and then some. He hammered a 1-and-0 inside fastball over the leftfield fence to give the third-seeded Vikings a 3-2 win over No. 7 Plainedge in Game 1 of their best-of-three Nassau Class A semifinal series. Game 2 will be played at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Plainedge.
"I'll tell you, my stomach turns," coach Scott Lineman said with a laugh. "It's nerve-wracking watching these games. But I couldn't have more faith in my players."
North Shore (20-3) scored the game's first run in the second inning. Liam Kearney drew a walk, advanced to third on a single by Matt Reali and scored on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze by Brendan Zbikowski.
North Shore pinch hitter Connor Lynn doubled with two outs in the fifth and moved to third on a passed ball. Nick Lucchese then beat out a run-scoring infield single to make it 2-0.
But Plainedge (17-7) tied it in the sixth. With two outs and the bases loaded, pinch hitter Pat Reilly drove a ball past third base for a two-run single.
"Tip your hat to them. They're a really good team. Resilient," Lucchese said. "But we've proven that we are, too."
Connor Hehn kept Plainedge's hitters off-balance with his wicked off-speed pitches. He threw 61/3 innings of two-run ball, allowing six hits and a walk with four strikeouts.
Plainedge's Anthony Pugliese was solid, allowing three runs in seven innings.
Lucchese allowed one hit in 12/3 innings of scoreless relief to earn the win.