The Bay Shore baseball team enjoyed its best season in the school’s 97-year history. The Marauders earned the Suffolk League II title and bullied their way into the Class AA playoffs as the top seed with an explosive offense that averaged 11 runs per game.
Yet the great equalizer at any level of baseball is the curveball. And Northport righthander Nick Palmerini is the owner of one of Long Island’s nastiest benders.
Palmerini allowed six hits and struck out nine in a complete game Friday as No. 8 Northport eliminated host Bay Shore, 5-3. The Tigers (17-6), who went 3-0 and left Bay Shore (20-4) at 2-2 in the double-elimination portion of the tournament, will face fifth-seeded Smithtown West at 4 p.m. Monday in the opener of a best-of-three semifinal series.
Northport second baseman George Sutherland set the tone in the first inning when he hit a two-run home run off Brian Weissert. A long sacrifice fly by Frank Stola made it 3-0.
“It was an 0-1 pitch, middle and in. And I got all of it,” Sutherland said of his second home run of the year. “It was extremely exciting to get that lead and get our crowd going.”
First baseman Dan Heller launched a two-run homer in the fourth for a 5-0 lead. “First-pitch fastball,” he said. “And I saw the outfielder going back and back and then it was gone. What a great feeling.”
Weissert allowed three hits, walked none, hit two batters and struck out nine. But the day belonged to Palmerini and his wrinkle. “I was mixing my pitches well and keeping them off balance and working low in the zone,” he said. “And our defense was playing well.”
Bay Shore rallied in the fifth. The Marauders loaded the bases with two outs and Damian Fanduiz singled home Joe Chionchio to make it 5-1. But Palmerini induced a pop-up to escape the jam.
“That out was the turning point in the game,” Heller said. “Bay Shore swept us during the season. And we were up 5-0 in one of those games and they came back to beat us. So there was no letdown today.”
Chris LaRose hammered a two-out, two-run homer to make it 5-3 in the seventh before Palmerini got the final out on a fly to center.
“This team plays with a lot of heart,” Northport coach John DeMartini said. “They play for each other.”