Mike Grisanti got cut from the Massapequa varsity baseball team last year. He was crushed.
He made it his goal to make the team in his senior year.
The Chiefs are happy he did.
Grisanti, one year removed from the heartache of being told he wasn’t good enough, stood on the mound at SUNY-Old Westbury with Game 1 of the Nassau Class AA championship hanging in the balance.
Here was Grisanti, the ball in his right hand with two outs and runners on first and second in the bottom of the seventh inning and Massapequa clinging to a one run lead over Oceanside.
“I dreamed of this moment,” Grisanti said. “Let it be me. Let me be the guy in the toughest situation with all the pressure and watch me get the job done. Sure, I was disappointed last year but I always believed in myself.”
Grisanti threw an inside fastball and jammed Chris Siklas, who grounded to third baseman Johnny Castagnozzi, who stepped on third for the final out as Massapequa edged Oceanside, 6-5, in the Nassau Class AA finals.
“We couldn’t believe we had to cut him last year,” said Massapequa coach Tom Sheedy. “It’s to his credit that he worked his tail off to come back, make the roster and put himself in a position to play. And he’s so mature and the perfect guy for these pressure type situations.”
Grisanti had come on with a runner on first and no outs in the seventh. He walked the first batter before getting the next two outs, including a strikeout. With runners on second and third, Leo Alvarez popped a two-run double barely inside the rightfield line to make it 6-5. Alvarez had two hits and all five RBI for Oceanside. Dylan Judd was intentionally walked setting up the final out.
“I used to watch the varsity when I was in middle school,” said Grisanti, who also served as the designated hitter and contributed a run-scoring single. “And I couldn’t wait to be a part of it.”
Oceanside opened the scoring in the first when Jake Lazzaro doubled and scored on a one out single by Alvarez for the 1-0 lead. Massapequa responded with a three-run second inning. James Zupo walked to lead off and scored when Castagnozzi launched a triple to right centerfield. Castagnozzi, a North Carolina verbal commit, scored on a Grisanti single for the 2-1 lead.
Oceanside turned a 5-4-3 double play to erase Grisanti but the Chiefs weren’t done. Wade Kelly singled, stole second and scored on an Aidan Cooney single.
“Castagnozzi is young and coming up and he’s something special,” Sheedy said. “The ball just jumps off his bat.”
Oceanside cut the deficit to 3-2 in the third inning. Lazzaro led off with a triple and scored on Alvarez one-out groundout. But Massapequa upped the lead to 5-2 in the fourth. Grisanti walked and moved to third on a Mike Moreno double. After one out, Sheedy went to the bench and called on pinch hitter Travis Honeyman. He came through with a two-run double to left to make it 5-2.
“I was so nervous but so focused when I stepped into the box,” Honeyman said.
The Chiefs extended the lead when Aidan Cooney was hit by a pitch and moved to second when Phil Cottone dropped a sacrifice bunt down the third base line. Nick Schwartz drilled a long run-scoring double to centerfield for an insurance run in the top of the seventh.
“Huge win for us,” Castagnozzi said.