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Matt Ciociano's catch helps secure victory for Oceanside

Matt Ciociano of Oceanside makes the catch on

Matt Ciociano of Oceanside makes the catch on the warning track during a Nassau Conference AA-I baseball game against host Massapequa on Tuesday, April 30, 2019. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Matt Ciociano made a spectacular running catch that most players can only dream about. 

With two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth inning, the Oceanside rightfielder tracked a long drive off the bat of Travis Honeyman. With his back to home plate and the ball fading over his right shoulder, Ciociano made a basket catch just before he slammed into the fence and somehow held on to the ball and rob the Chiefs of three runs.

The Oceanside dugout spilled out onto the field to greet Ciociano after he peeled himself off the fence. The defensive gem keyed Oceanside’s 7-6 win over host Massapequa in a Nassau Class AA-2 baseball game.

“It’s the best catch of my life,” said Ciociano, a converted catcher, who made another diving catch in the fifth inning to take an extra-base hit away from Johnny Castagnozzi.

“I’ve been around baseball a long time and never seen a catch quite like that,” said Oceanside coach Mike Postilio. “And he hit the fence so hard and held on.”

It was the one play that everyone wanted to talk about it in a game that saw late inning dramatics from both teams. Massapequa, the defending Long Island Class AA champions, showed its resilience when it erased a 5-1 deficit with two outs in the sixth inning. The Chiefs strung together four hits, keyed by a Nick Schwartz two-run double to get within 5-3. Travis Honeyman’s single made it 5-4 and Chris DeSousa doubled home the tying run before Joe Reda’s bases-loaded walk gave the Chiefs the lead.

But Oceanside would not be denied. The Sailors responded with one out in the seventh. Jake Lazzaro walked, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Noah Eisel laced an RBI single, his third hit of the game, to tie the score at 6. Austin Vlahakis drilled a single, moving Eisel to third, and Chris Siklas lifted a sacrifice fly to regain the lead.   

“We’ve shown that our lineup is deep and can come back against any team,” said Eisel, who also had two doubles. “They’re the team to beat and this is a real confidence builder.”

Oceanside (8-3) jumped all over Massapequa with a three-run first inning keyed by a Siklas two-run home run for a 3-0 lead. Massapequa (9-4) responded when leadoff man Wade Kelly launched a solo home run to make it 3-1.

In the third, Leo Alvarez crushed a long two-run home run to make it 5-1 and chase starter Chris Prystupka.

 “We showed a lot of character and team leadership coming back in the last inning,” Postilio said. “But that catch .  . . wow!” 

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