The bunt sign was on and Justin Kimmel wasn’t thrilled.
“As a coach, I could tell he really didn’t want to bunt because he kept looking at me,” said Plainview-Old Bethpage baseball coach John Givargidze.
Kimmel’s first bunt attempt didn’t go so well, neither did his second. All he could do then was swing away.
And that’s exactly what he did. Kimmel drove the next pitch to deep leftfield for a double with no outs to advance Tyler Marinaccio to third with the score tied in the sixth inning. Nick Franco followed one-batter later with a single to take a one-run lead as No. 1 Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK defeated No. 3 Massapequa, 5-4, Saturday in Game 1 of a best-of-three series of the Nassau Class AA final at SUNY-Old Westbury.
Game 2 will be at 11 a.m. Sunday at SUNY-Old Westbury.
“When he got to second base he said ‘I didn’t want to bunt anyway,’ ” Givargidze laughed. “And I said ‘Yeah, I could tell by the attempt you made.’ But sometimes things work out not the way you plan it.”
“I was like ‘Nah, I don’t want to bunt,’ ” Kimmel said of his failed bunt attempts with a laugh. “I want to come up big and do something to help the team like with an extra-base hit.”
Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK (22-3) added tack-on runs in the sixth on run-producing bunts from Ethan Schorr and Michael Cole to take a 5-2 lead, and those additional scores proved vital. Massapequa (19-6) scored two in the seventh and had the tying run on second with one out before Marinaccio recorded a strikeout and a fly ball, which rightfielder Zach Stromberg made a nice sliding catch on to end the game.
Mark Faello, the Hawks ace committed to Hofstra, pitched six strong innings before being removed after allowing a leadoff double in the seventh. He finished allowing five hits with three walks and five strikeouts and three runs pitching on short rest.
“Every time he’s out there, we know we’re either going to win or he’s going to keep us in the ballgame,” Givargidze said. “Even on short rest, he’s better than a lot of guys on full rest.”
And with that performance, the Hawks are one win from a county title. But Faello knows it won’t come easy.
“We have to come out even stronger because they don’t want to go home,” Faello said. “So we’re going to have to really work and hit for us to win.”