For Sachem East's dynamic leadoff hitter Joe Deland, Tuesday was a case of opposites being attractive.
Deland, a righthanded hitter, tripled down the rightfield line leading off the home first inning and contributed a key two-run double to right-center during a decisive six-run second inning as host Sachem East held off Hauppauge, 9-7, Tuesday in a Suffolk Class A first-round double-elimination playoff game.
"This whole year, I've been working on going oppo," Deland said, using the jargon of the day to describe the act of taking a pitch the other way. "But I've squared the ball up most of the season. But today in batting practice, I took everything to rightfield."
That's because Deland and his teammates had a good scouting report on Hauppauge's hard-throwing sophomore lefthander Nick Fanti. "We know he likes to work the outside corner," Deland said. "I was just trying to get things started. It felt really good in that first at-bat because it's just what I worked on."
Deland, who had his first four-hit game of the season, scored the game's first run on a groundout. In the second inning, he went "oppo" again, this time driving a two-run double to right-center as the Flaming Arrows scored six runs. Rich Motta also contributed a two-run double.
"I had two strikes and just wanted to shorten up my swing and get it to the right side," Deland said. "I used to look for first-pitch fastballs and swing away. But my teammates said I should look at more pitches."
Starter Nick Liegi improved to 7-1 but ran into some trouble later in the game. He allowed four singles in a four-run fourth for Hauppauge, which capitalized on an infield error to score three unearned runs. Sachem East got two of those back in the fourth, thanks to a pair of walks and a botched rundown play.
But in the sixth, Liegi allowed RBI hits to P.J. Contreras, Austin Adamo and Vinny Murillo. There were runners on first and second with one out when Joe Pavlik relieved. He got Hauppauge's third and fourth batters, Dom Confredo and Fanti, on pop-ups to end the threat, and closed the game with a 1-2-3 seventh.
"Pav came in and shut them down," East coach Kevin Schnupp said. "That was big."