Pat Clyne tried his hardest to treat Tuesday as just another game.
Forget that he was pitching at a college, rather than a high school. Forget that if Massapequa lost, it would be not only his last varsity start but elimination from the Nassau AA final.
Clyne slept the best he could and endured what felt like an endless day of school. He requested Keith Urban’s “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16,” heading to the mound, as is the custom at Massapequa. Anything to keep things somewhat normal.
“During our home games, that was the one we walked out to,” Clyne said. “It just got everybody into the game, in the right mind, focused on the game. It was time to play.”
And Clyne (8-0) was nearly as perfect as his record as a senior indicates. He allowed only two runs (one earned) and six hits in six innings in No. 4 Massapequa’s 4-2 victory over No. 3 East Meadow to force a winner-take-all Game 3 Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Farmingdale State College for the Nassau AA championship.
Clyne kept the potent East Meadow hitters off balance from the start, mixing in change-ups and curveballs while using his fastball to control the inside part of the plate. After allowing a leadoff single to Paul Miano, Clyne retired the next 11 hitters before allowing a two-out double to Frank Ippolito in the fourth inning.
“What you saw today is what we’ve had all year long,” coach Tom Sheedy said. “He’s a calming influence, he throws strikes. Sometimes he gets behind batters, but he always comes back.”
Massapequa (19-5) struck first when Matt Donofrio drove a fastball to right-centerfield, scoring Chris Wasson and Luke O’Mahony to give the Chiefs a 2-0 lead in the third.
“They were working me in all series so far, so I was looking for a fastball middle in,” Donofrio said, “and I got it right away and I jumped on it.”
The Chiefs had multiple hits in the first and second innings but East Meadow’s Joe Minucci escaped trouble early. But in the fourth, Massapequa gave Clyne some insurance with sacrifice flies from Tommy Macri and Wasson to take a 4-0 lead.
Massapequa had opportunities to score early in its 6-5 Game 1 loss to East Meadow (20-5). Sheedy thought they did a better job capitalizing Tuesday. “It’s more that we cashed in a couple of RBIs,’’ he said. “The other day, we didn’t cash in.”
Sheedy removed Clyne for Justin Schirmacher in the seventh, and he pitched a scoreless inning for the save. After surviving elimination once, the Chiefs think they can do it again.
“We were very confident,” said Wasson, who went 2-for-3 with a run and RBI. “We’ll be confident. We’ve been talking to the coaches, we’ve won two games in a row many times this season. We can do it again.”