It seemingly happens around this time every spring. The weather heats up and so does the Massapequa baseball team.
Coach Tom Sheedy’s squad arrived at the Nassau Conference I Championship Series playing their best baseball of the season and jumped all over Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK Wednesday to take Game 1, 7-0. Matt Hannon fired six innings of shutout ball and six different players drove in runs.
The series continues with Game 2 on Thursday at JFK with Massapequa (17-2) seeking its 14th county title. Massapequa technically is going for its fifth in eight seasons (2020 having been lost to the pandemic) and two in a row.
"We feel we’re the defending champions and this is two years in the making," said leftfielder Dan Sohn, a starter on the 2019 Long Island championship team. "You could see how everybody is ready to play, everybody is ready to win."
Massapequa scored two in the first, three in the second and two in the third. Every time the Hawks (14-6) gave ’Pequa an inch, it took a mile.
"We’re very aggressive," Sheedy said. "We hit from top-to-bottom and we are always looking to take advantage and move up on the bases. They gave us some opportunities."
"We gave up too many walks and we made too many mistakes," JFK coach John Givargidze said. "They’re a team that capitalizes every time."
In the first, Massapequa drew four walks and Bobby Stang had a run-scoring single. In the second, Vinny Mallon’s run-scoring double was the big hit. In the third, the key drive was Jordan DeStafano’s ground-rule RBI double.
It was plenty for Hannon. The junior was the losing pitcher against the Hawks when the team’s split their regular season series and had plenty of extra motivation. He took a no-hitter into the sixth before Josh Indek’s infield single to the hole between shortstop and third base. He also and used a wicked curve en route to recording 11 strikeouts.
"I went to their [semifinal] against Syosset and hoped they’d win so I could get another shot at them," Hannon said. "It’s satisfying to get them back."
Tim Dolan allowed one hit in the seventh but finished off the shutout.
JFK will pitch ace Dylan Banner with its back to the wall in Game 2. Banner was JFK’s defensive standout in Game 1, diving for a pair of smashes and throwing the runners out from his knees.