Noah Eisel spent the weekend with the gnawing feeling he’d let down his Oceanside teammates in Game 1 of their Nassau AA quarterfinal baseball series against Farmingdale. He hadn’t matched the Dalers’ Justin Rosner in a battle of aces. On Monday, he tasted sweet redemption in the decisive Game 3.
Eisel was summoned to protect a three-run lead in the sixth inning with none out and the tying run at the plate. The righthander snuffed the threat with a strikeout and a pair of groundouts, and the fourth-seeded Sailors went on to a 6-1 win to capture the series. Eisel completed a two-inning save by getting three straight called third strikes with two men on in the seventh.
“I’d expected more from myself in the first game and I’d been feeling like I let everyone down. I was even feeling it today,” Eisel said. “I got a second chance and came through for them. Nothing’s better.”
Oceanside (15-6) opens its best-of-three semifinal series at top-seeded Port Washington (18-3) on Friday. The Vikings have allowed 15 runs in their last 12 games.
Even as he ran the bases in the first inning Monday, Eisel seemed hell-bent on making a difference. He followed Jake Lazzaro’s leadoff single with a full-count walk and boldly went from first to third when Austin Vlahakis singled off the glove of the shortstop and the ball ended up in short leftfield. It allowed him to score on Chris Siklas’ single for a 2-0 lead.
“Why not put a little pressure on them right away?” Eisel said.
“You saw Noah’s makeup today,” Sailors coach Mike Postilio said. “He’s a great athlete with a passion to be in on everything.”
Aggressive baserunning by Lazzaro and Eisel also helped produce a pair of insurance runs in the sixth.
“We’re fast and the aggressiveness is part of our culture,” Lazzaro said. “Even after we lost the first game we never doubted.”
Both Postilio and Farmingdale coach Frank Tassielli could have brought back their Game 1 starters to start Game 3, but each decided to hold them back in the event they were needed for a save. Only Oceanside got that chance.
Sailors starter Leo Alvarez laid the foundation for the win with five-plus innings of one-run ball with six strikeouts. The righthander hadn’t fared well against the Dalers (10-11-1) in a regular-season game but, he said, “it meant a lot that [Postilio] believed in me — it fired me up.”
Alvarez struck out five of the first six he faced and didn’t allow a hit until Kevin Wilson’s triple in the fourth. And Alvarez’s grand slam keyed Saturday’s Game 2 win.
Lazzaro, Eisel, Vlahakis, Siklas and Alvarez — all seniors in their third varsity season — provided the leadership to comeback from the Game 1 loss. Said Postilio: “you live or die with your best players; that’s how we won a really tough series.”