If 18th birthdays really are the threshold into adulthood, then Zachary Zimarda's performance Wednesday for Massapequa proved that he's entering the next stage of his life with an above-average amount of confidence.
Zimarda came in with two outs and two on in the bottom of the seventh, balked the runners over and gave up a two-run single to Nick Vlahakis, which got Oceanside within a run in Game 1 of the Nassau Class AA final at Farmingdale State. Most pitchers would be rattled, but there was no room for rattling on this particular vision quest.
"The pressure was on," Zimarda said after the Chiefs held on for a 3-2 victory. "But I've been in situations like that before -- men on base, coming in and getting the job done."
With the go-ahead run at the plate, Zimarda, who turned 18 Wednesday, got a quick two called strikes and then induced a force out at second to preserve the victory.
Ace Alex Cosenza went 42/3 innings before walking three in the fifth. Ryan Warner came in to end the fifth-inning threat and pitched a perfect sixth, but he allowed back-to-back seventh-inning singles, and that's when Zimarda entered.
"I try to keep my emotions in check until after the game," Zimarda said. "I knew my defense had my back. Their two hitter is a very good hitter, but he's very aggressive at the plate. I thought I'd keep the ball away. I went first pitch with the fastball, second pitch with the curveball and, at that point, I think I knew I had him."
No. 6 Massapequa opened the scoring on Griffin Sullivan's first-inning double that drove in Jesse Nakashian, who was pivotal on defense at third base with five assists and three putouts. Phil Michel and Mike Wall hit back-to-back RBI singles off Jake Santamaria to give the Chiefs (16-7-1) the 3-0 lead.
"We watched a lot of film this week and took a bunch of notes," Sullivan said. "We knew he was going to throw off-speed pitches most of the way and we just hopped on them. We got the hits to go in the right spot."
No. 10 Oceanside (14-9-1) will try to even the best-of-three series against the defending-champion Chiefs at 7 Thursday night at Farmingdale State.
"We said all year, find a way," said Sullivan -- even after the Chiefs went winless in their first four games of the season. "Everyone doubted us but we knew as a ballclub we could play with anyone in this league. We showed that by beating Hicksville, coming back from losing the first game , and beating East Meadow . That gives us a lot of confidence."
Spitaleri, Martinez lift Division. Mark Martinez went 2-for-4 with a double and triple, and Joe Spitaleri hit a two-run double in a three-run second as Division beat No. 2 North Shore, 6-3, in Game 1 of the Nassau Class A final at Farmingdale State.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series will be played Thursday at 4 p.m.
No. 1 Division (23-2) took a 4-0 lead on Martinez's second-inning RBI triple, but North Shore's Nick Luchese hit a two-run single in the fourth to draw the Vikings (19-6) to within 4-3. Adam Herbert (ground out) and James Varela (single) had back-to-back RBIs in the sixth to provide the cushion.