There was one major difference in Monday's Nassau Conference AA-II baseball game: Oceanside played flawless defense . . . and Hicksville committed six errors, something out of character for a first-place team.
Oceanside lefthander James Long allowed five hits, struck out eight and walked one in a complete game as the Sailors beat Hicksville, 6-1. Long retired 10 of the final 11 hitters and picked a runner off first base in the sixth inning.
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"I threw well and the defense was great," Long said. "I went to the curveball more late in the game and that kept them off-balance."
Oceanside (7-2) jumped on top in the first inning. Leadoff man Connor Pasetti walked, stole second and scored on a fielder's choice for a 1-0 lead.
The Sailors took advantage of three infield errors for an unearned run in the third. Hicksville starter Ron Bauer escaped further damage when he struck out Pasetti and Dan Lombardo with runners at first and third.
Hicksville (10-2) rallied in the fourth inning to cut the lead in half. Bauer and Kyle Cashman singled and a one-out walk loaded the bases. Long struck out Joe Enderle for the second out and had a 1-and-2 count on Andrew Purcell. But as Long went into the windup, Bauer broke from third to steal home.
"He totally caught me by surprise," Long said. "I wasn't expecting that at all."
The pitch was up in the zone for a ball and Bauer slid under the tag of catcher Brian Lau to cut it to 2-1. Long regrouped after the improbable steal of home, and induced Purcell to pop out to end the threat.
"He had command of his stuff and really stayed down in the zone," Oceanside coach Mike Postilio said. "He was ahead of the hitters with a lot of first-pitch strikes and had good stamina."
Oceanside capitalized on three more Hicksville errors in a three-run fifth. Francis Rapp lined a two-run single to right for a 5-1 lead. "Rapp and Lombardo have had timely hits for us," Postilio said. "They're seniors and leading the way."
Lombardo added a long run-scoring double in the sixth for the final margin. Speaking of Bauer, Lombardo said: "He's very good and struck me out my first two at-bats. I saw him much better the last two at bats."
Bauer allowed five hits and two runs and struck out nine in six innings.
"We have two more games with them this week," Postilio said. "We match up well. This was a very good win."