Two of Long Island’s storied baseball programs gave a packed house on a sun-drenched afternoon all it could want in a memorable Long Island Class AA championship at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.
And the result came with high drama. Connetquot’s lefthanded hitting John O’Connell battled Massapequa’s righthanded closer Kenny Galvin to a full count with the bases loaded and two out with the Thunderbirds trailing by a run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Massapequa was trying to complete an epic comeback from a five-run fifth inning deficit. And Connetquot was attempting to pull the game back its way with a walk-off hit.
Galvin, who had fallen behind in the count at 3-0, worked his way back to 3-2 before O’Connell fouled a pitch to the backstop. The next offering, a fastball, came down the middle and O’Connell sent a long line drive to rightfield.
“He hit it well,” Massapequa’s Chris DeSousa said. “But the wind held it up and I had a good jump off the bat.”
The senior outfielder made the catch running toward the line while signifying No. 1 with his throwing hand as Massapequa held on for a 7-6 come-from-behind win over Connetquot to claim its third straight Long Island Class AA baseball championship.
Massapequa, the defending state Class AA champions, will meet the Shenendehowa-Fayetteville-Manlius winner at Binghamton University on Friday at 5 p.m.
The Chiefs erased a 5-0 fifth inning deficit with a two-out, four-run fifth, two more runs in the sixth and a Nick Schwartz game-winning solo home run in the top of the seventh.
Schwartz game-winning blast is one kids dream about. With the score tied at 6, Schwartz tattooed a 1-1 changeup, that left the park in a hurry, hitting the top of the protective netting in left centerfield.
As Schwartz celebrated his fifth home run of the season, Massapequa had seized its first lead of the game.
“This what you dream about, hitting that big home run,” Schwartz said. “I thought to myself when I was running around the bases, ‘we have the lead.’ ”
Massapequa coach Tom Sheedy said Schwartz has been the leader all season.
“He’s the guy for us and as that ball was climbing I was thinking is it going to get out?” Sheedy said. “What a great feeling. I always felt we’d never be out of any game, not with our lineup. This is the best hitting team we’ve ever had.”
Connetquot opened a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Matty Brown-Eiring walked and moved to second on a balk. With one out, Jared Yalon lined an RBI single off the left leg of DeSousa, the starting pitcher. The ball caromed so hard off DeSousa it reached the short rightfield area as Brown-Eiring raced home.
The Thunderbirds rallied for four runs with one out in the third inning. Derek Yalon reached on an infield error, Alex Ungar walked and Brown-Eiring legged out an infield hit to load the bases.
Sheedy brought in reliever Derek Haag to face Josh McGee, the T-Birds leading hitter. McGee greeted him by tucking a two-run single down the leftfield line to make it 3-0. Jared Yalon followed with an opposite field double to score two more runs and make it 5-0.
Connetquot lefty and seven-game winner Matt Goodis cruised through four innings holding the Chiefs to two hits. But he came undone in the top of the fifth, walking the bases loaded with two outs. Wade Kelly launched a three-run triple to deep left centerfield and Schwartz added a run-scoring single and the Chiefs were back in it at 5-4.
Connetquot coach Rob Burger removed Goodis and brought in Brown-Eiring from third base to face Boston College commit Travis Honeyman, who’d doubled to deep center earlier in the game. Brown-Eiring got Honeyman on a line drive to left to preserve the one-run lead.
Connetquot made it 6-4 in the fifth on a Lucas Quinlan RBI double. Massapequa tied it at 6 with two runs in the sixth. Dan Sohn lifted a sacrifice fly and Tyler Sohn doubled off the leftfield fence for a run-scoring double.
“We worked the count and didn’t feel the pressure,” Schwartz said. “Because we’re Massapequa.”
And the Massapequa baseball dynasty continues.