Aidan Cooney can say firsthand that a couple of feet can be the difference between a win and a loss.
Cooney made game-winning and game-saving plays in No. 4 Massapequa’s 5-4 win over No. 2 Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK on Wednesday, leading the host Chiefs in Game 2 of the Nassau Class AA baseball semifinals.
With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Cooney, standing on third after he reached on a blooper to center, broke for home on an alert baserunning play after the pitch got away. Cooney slid headfirst and beat the throw, sending Massapequa to the county finals against No. 1 Oceanside.
“It’s my job at third,” Cooney said. “It’s always my job to be ready [to break for home].”
Had it not been for his glove in the top of the seventh, Massapequa might not have advanced. Two batters after Mike Moreno made a diving catch in front of the warning track in left-centerfield, Cooney tracked Michael Rothstein’s blast just in front of the 370-foot marker in center.
Cooney left his feet and extended his glove, hauling in a shot that sent everyone in attendance to their feet.
“That’s 368,” Cooney said. “Two feet away.”
Rothstein homered in the top of the fifth inning for a 3-0 Plainview lead in support of starter Mark Faello, a Hofstra commit. But Massapequa (17-6) capitalized on a defensive miscue in the infield in the bottom of the fifth, and then pinch-hitter Dan Wolf delivered an RBI single to tie it at 3. A few batters later, Andrew Primm singled in a run with two outs to put the Chiefs ahead 4-3.
Dan Meaney relieved Massapequa starter Bobby Conlon after five innings but left with a 2-and-0 count on Ryan Saltzman and Jason Pollack standing on second base. Ethan Schorr ripped the first pitch he saw into right-center, scoring Pollack and tying the score for Plainview (16-8) at 4-4.
Winning pitcher Kenny Galvin then watched Moreno and Cooney keep his pitching line unblemished in the seventh inning.
“It’s funny, we worked on going to the fence our last practice,” Massapequa coach Tom Sheedy said. “I was apologizing to Aidan, who’s just a fabulous defensive outfielder, that when the series was over, we were going to spend some more time on that.”
Cooney seems to be just fine.