Joe Flynn made solid contact, smacking the ball to straightaway center with gusto.
Make that with "gust-oh.''
"That wind just knocked it down," the Ward Melville third baseman said after his team's hard-fought 3-1 League I baseball victory over Patchogue-Medford on Monday in Patchogue. "I hit it good and I put my head down thinking double, triple, home run . . . [Afterward] I knew I had to change my approach."
Flynn's potential home run turned into an easy flyout in the first inning. By the fourth, he had figured out how to deal with the wind, which sometimes blew in and sometimes blew across toward rightfield. Flynn lined a pitch from Nick Clemente into the rightfield corner for a double, igniting a three-run inning that put the Patriots ahead for good.
"I realized you had to hit everything on the ground," Flynn said. "Anything high, the wind knocked down."
Two outs later, Jeff Towle smacked a single to right to drive in Flynn with the first run.
Towle changed his approach, too. "I started sitting on balls away and trying to go the other way rather than pulling the ball," said Towle, who eventually scored on a passed ball to make it 3-0.
Ward Melville is 7-1, 6-1; Patchogue-Medford fell to 5-5, 5-5.
Flynn had two doubles and Andrew Schelberg had two singles for the Patriots. The conditions made for a tight pitching matchup, as both Clemente and the Patriots' Kevin Wiltse went the distance.
Clemente allowed only one hit until that fourth inning and Wiltse carried his one-hitter into the sixth. He had eight strikeouts.
"I was feeling my location," Wiltse said. "I was hitting all my spots. I'd go fastball, fastball and then try to get a cutter in there. I used my curveball to try to confuse people in the later innings. I started to struggle in the sixth."
Brett Malm led off that inning with a single and, with two outs and the runner in motion, Andrew Garcia doubled to left to make it 3-1. PJ Martino then singled and stole second to put the tying run in scoring position before Wiltse induced a flyout to end the threat.
"He was really pounding the zone and he had great control," Towle said. "Having that playoff experience helps us a great deal . Today's game felt like the playoffs."