Connetquot ace Joe Savino performed a bit of puppeteering mastery on the powerful Floyd lineup Tuesday afternoon in the Suffolk AA playoffs. With his fastball sitting around 90 miles an hour and a late breaking slider, the senior righthander had Colonial hitters reaching down, waving or standing still all game long.
It was complete control.
The host Thunderbirds rolled to a 5-0 second-round victory behind Savino’s three-hit, nine-strikeout artistry and now stand one win away from reaching the semifinal round. Third-seeded Connetquot (16-4) next plays on Friday against the winner of Wednesday’s elimination game between Floyd (14-7) and Sachem East.
“All his pitches hit the spots I wanted him to throw it. It was something to watch,” catcher Josh McGee said. “He found the zone after the third inning and he could do anything he wanted. He was missing bats left and right. It was awesome to catch. He was in total control.”
The Thunderbirds played a very opportunistic brand of offense. Whenever Floyd gave an extra out with a fielding miscue, Connetquot pounced. The Thunderbirds scored a run in the second on a throwing error and added three more in the third after a two-out groundball got booted; Matt Brown-Eiring drove in two of those with a single to right center in a 3-for-3 performance.
Floyd righty Anthony Currao gave the Colonials five solid innings after they needed to play nine to beat Sachem East in the first round the day before. He ended up with four unearned runs on his tab.
“We run the ‘hard 90’ down the line every time to put pressure on a defense,” T-birds coach Rob Burger said. “If someone gives us a window of opportunity, they’re going to see us pounce. That’s who we’ve been all year.”
After Connetquot’s three-run rally, Savino was dialed in. Burger said that “[he] said ‘there will be no more from the other side’ and we erupted. He’s a warrior.”
Floyd got two more baserunners, on a fielding error and Jon Robinson’s second hit, and nothing else.
Savino retired the last nine Colonials he faced and struck out the side in order in the sixth and seventh innings. In the 83-pitch gem, he didn’t issue a walk.
“The last couple innings, I found my stuff and it felt great out there,” Savino said.
Connetquot lost to Eastport-South Manor in a semifinal series last season and has in its locker room a large blown up photograph of the Sharks celebrating on their field. “We can’t have that again,” Savino said. “We’re dead set on [the] county.”
But there was a mid-season lull after dropping two of three to Sachem North. “Right there we had to make a decision about what type of team we were,” Burger said. “We didn’t want anyone telling us who we are. . . . so we decided not to let it drag us [under]. We decided that [opponents] get our best from now on.”