Patchogue-Medford’s Josh Knoth was one out away from a no-hitter. The sophomore cruised through 6 2/3 innings with 10 strikeouts and was looking for one more.
He struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the seventh inning before Tom Ribaudo reached on an error. Lefthanded hitting Mike Mortilla then grounded a single up the middle and beat the throw to first to break up the no-hit bid.
Patchogue-Medford coach Tony Frascogna proceeded to remove Knoth to a standing ovation.
"He was outstanding again," Frascogna said.
Reliever Tristan Verni allowed an RBI single to Jack Friend before gaining the final out in Patchogue-Medford’s 11-2 win over Ward Melville in a first-round game of the Suffolk Conference I playoffs in South Setauket.
No. 5 Patchogue Medford (13-6) will travel to play top-seeded Sachem East (15-3) Wednesday in a semifinal.
Knoth (5-1) allowed two earned runs, hit five batters and walked one.
"He’s our go-to guy," Frascogna said. "He’s been great, just smooth sailing. His ball moves so much and he hit a few batters with sliders. Their batters hung in there on some close pitches and got hit."
Knoth started strongly. He struck out four of the first five hitters, including the side in the first inning.
"I was coming over my front side too much," Knoth said. "I had my velocity and felt really good, though."
The Patchogue-Medford offense was keyed by second baseman Matt Schlanger, who reached base in all four at-bats. He went 3-for-3 , with two triples and a walk.
Schlanger drilled a one-out triple to rightfield and scored on Jack Costello's single for a 1-0 lead. The Raiders took advantage of five walks, including three with the bases loaded in the third inning to grab a 4-0 lead.
"We were patient in our approach and we had some big hits," Frascogna said.
The Raiders blew the game open with a seven-run, six-hit inning in the fifth for an 11-1 lead. Schlanger lined a two-run single and Justin Moustoukas and Costello added RBI singles in the barrage.
"I’m seeing the ball well and doing what I can to help my team," Schlanger said. "I barreled a few balls up pretty good and they carried over the outfielder’s heads."
Ward Melville (13-6) trailed 4-0 in the third before Mortilla drove in a run on a fielder’s choice. The Patriots could have taken advantage of an infield error and a hit batsman to push another run across but Knoth fielded a groundball and fired to freshman catcher Brian Frascogna for the tag at the plate.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth. Knoth wiggled out of trouble with a grounder to third for the final out.
"We’re not good enough to give away so many extra outs," said Ward Melville coach Lou Petrucci. "And we walked too many batters and got beat in the outfield a few times. They got a lot of key hits and deserved the win."