When he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fourth, Joe Flynn could sense his team was reeling. "We were flat. I felt like I had to do something,'' the Ward Melville sophomore third baseman said.
The Patriots trailed by four runs after a controversial three-run homer, but Flynn wasn't flat. He was flat-out fantastic.
He hit a hanging curve over the left-centerfield fence for a two-run homer in the fourth and belted a grand slam over the centerfield fence in the sixth as Ward Melville beat Connetquot, 12-5, on Friday to win the Suffolk Class AA title, the first county baseball crown in school history.
"This whole year has been unbelievable,'' said Flynn, who had seven RBIs and said it was the first two-homer game of his life. "I picked a good time for it, didn't I?''
Flynn has hit eight homers this season, and five have come in four playoff games. "What can I say about Joe Flynn?'' Ward Melville coach Lou Petrucci said. "He's a pure slugger and a clutch hitter.''
Defending county champion Connetquot (17-10) took a 4-0 lead on an unusual play. With two on in the top of the fourth, pinch hitter Brendan Morse sent a drive to deep left that was headed over the fence. Greg Coman made a spectacular leaping catch while crashing through the mesh wall, but the umpires decided Coman had extended the fence and ruled it a home run.
But Flynn's two-run homer brought the Patriots back to life. "That sparked everything. We were a little down in the dumps,'' said Anthony Kay, who pitched a complete game for his 20th career win and had three singles, two RBIs and three runs.
"I wasn't thinking about taking him out for a second,'' Petrucci said.
The Patriots grabbed a 6-4 lead in the fifth with a four-run rally that included a couple of bloops, a throwing error and a balk. There was nothing cheap, however, about their six-run sixth. "I knew there was no place to put me with the bases loaded,'' Flynn said, "so I looked for a fastball.''
After Flynn's grand gesture, all that was left was for Kay to close out Connetquot in the seventh and wind up on the bottom of a pileup near the mound as the players stormed the field. "That was pretty painful,'' Kay said with a grin. "Good painful.''