As one of the best pitchers on Long Island, Bayport-Blue Point's Jack Piekos is used to having the ball in his hands when the game is on the line. Excuse his reaction when he's on the other side of the equation, with a bat in his hands.
"Absolutely. I'm definitely nervous," said Piekos, who came up to bat Wednesday with the score tied in the eighth inning. "That's a tough situation to put anyone in. I'm just glad I calmed down later on in the at-bat and really fixed my mindset."
Not that Piekos, the No. 3 hitter, isn't a threat with the bat, too. Just ask Shoreham-Wading River.
With two outs and a runner on second, Piekos drilled a 1-and-2 fastball up the middle, scoring T.J. McGuire and giving the Phantoms a 7-6 win to preserve their chance at a League VII championship.
If Bayport defeats Shoreham Thursday, the two will be declared co-champs.
McGuire, the No. 9 hitter, went 3-for-4.
"It means a whole lot to us," Dan Campanelli said. "The goal this year was to win a league title and I think it shows a lot how we just keep fighting."
And oh, how they fought. The Phantoms (10-4) had a 4-0 lead going into the fifth before the Wildcats busted out for five runs in the fifth, capped by Tyler Osik's grand slam to left-center. Shoreham (11-3) batted around that inning and knocked out Bayport starter P.J. Weeks, who had begun brilliantly, facing the minimum through three and getting out of a small-ball generated jam in the fourth.
Shoreham's starter, freshman Brian Morrell, went six innings, allowing six hits and four runs. He previously no-hit teams in back-to-back starts this year.
Kyle Pendergast's sixth-inning RBI single gave Shoreham a 6-4 lead. But with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh, Jake Scimone singled to left to draw the Phantoms to within 6-5. The rally, though, seemed destined to come up short at the end of the play, when the runner on second was caught trying to advance to an occupied base on the throw home. Campanelli delivered a two-out single in the next at-bat, but the gaffe meant extra innings -- the second such game in a row (Shoreham won, 1-0, Tuesday.
"It's a really tough series," Piekos said. "And our drive to win is definitely top class. This group of guys, I haven't met many others that really want to win like this team does . . . It's an absolutely great feeling."