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TJ Maher's arm, bat help South Side force Game 3 against Manhasset in Nassau Conference III baseball finals

South Side's TJ Maher celebrates hitting a grand

South Side's TJ Maher celebrates hitting a grand slam against Manhasset in Game 2 of the Nassau Conference III finals on June 17, 2021. Credit: Howard Simmons

South Side has been such a streaky team, winning eight straight, then losing seven straight and then winning four straight before losing on a walk-off single at Manhasset in Game 1 of the best-of-three Nassau Conference III baseball finals.

So the Cyclones needed one more streak to secure first prize, a two-game winning streak against a team that had been streaky in one direction, riding into Game 2 Thursday with 13 consecutive victories.

Manhasset’s streak is now over. The Cyclones are halfway there.

South Side easily emerged on the winning side in the face of elimination, trouncing Manhasset, 13-1, in a 4 1/2-inning game at Barasch Field in Rockville Centre. Junior TJ Maher was at the forefront with his four-hit pitching and four-run hitting — his third-inning grand slam.

The deciding game will be played Friday at 4:30 at Manhasset.

"I think we got it," Maher said.

"I like my chances," Cyclones coach Tom Smith said.

Of course, Manhasset (16-4) had won 13 straight for a reason after starting 3-3.

"This team has been through it all this year," coach Mark Giardino said. "We have faced adversity, and I am very confident in the way we’re going to react and come back from it."

Besides, Giardino said, "Momentum in baseball is all about the next day’s starting pitching, and I like my chances."

Giardino declined to name his starter. Smith will go with Danny Russell.

The Cyclones (13-8) have their chance after staging three big rallies.They put together a four-run second against Andrew Flood. The highlight came when Sean Britt boomed a three-run double to left for a 4-0 lead.

They also delivered a six-run third against Flood and Brendan Trotta. It was 6-1 when Maher stepped up with the bases loaded and sent Trotta’s pitch soaring beyond the fence in left.

"When I saw it leave, I couldn’t believe my eyes," Maher said. "It was just amazing to get that lead and go back on the mound and shut them down."

Paul Mata then slugged a two-run triple in a three-run fourth.

Next up, Game 3.

"We can really hit it," Smith said. "If we come together and do what we did today, I think our mentality will carry us through that game."

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