Frank Andriani saw his chance to win a title for Port Jefferson unfold in fast motion right in front of his eyes.
It was first and third with no outs in the last of the seventh, tie score in the deciding Game 3 of the Suffolk Class C championship series between the top-seeded Royals and No. 3 Pierson.
Andriani was hit by a pitch and moved to third on Evan Raymond’s single. Moments later, Andriani saw reliever Paul Roesel’s pitch hit the dirt and skip past the catcher, and he raced home — a walk-off wild pitch to end a wild baseball game.
“There’s nothing better than this,” Andriani said after Friday’s thrill ride came to a stop with a 7-6 win that gave Port Jefferson its first county championship since 2008.
“I would say that was genuinely one of the most exciting, competitive situations I’ve ever been a part of,” Royals coach Jesse Rosen said. “I would say that for all parties involved. This team has had fight throughout the course of the year.”
This 20-3 team advanced to the Conference V title game vs. Class B champ Center Moriches Sunday at the PAL Complex in Holbrook and the Long Island Class C championship game/State Regional semifinal vs. Carle Place Thursday at St. Joseph’s (Patchogue).
“I think we can go all the way,” said Luke Filippi, who had three hits and earned the win with two innings of relief. “I’m completely confident in the whole team.”
The Whalers (15-9) scored twice against Filippi in the sixth, on a Vincent Cavaniola RBI double and an error, to grab a 6-5 edge.
But Ruairi Rago delivered his third hit and third RBI in the bottom half, lining a single to left-center — 6-6.
“I have a lot of respect for our willingness to give back a run and say, ‘That’s not it,’ ” Rosen said.
Port Jefferson led, 1-0. Then Pierson led, 2-1. Then Port Jefferson tied it. Then Port Jefferson led, 4-2. Then Pierson tied it. Then Port Jefferson led, 5-4. Then came those last two lead changes.
“It shows a lot of guts and desire and no quit,” coach Jonathan Schwartz said of his Whalers’ continued response. “There was definitely no quit in this team this year. … We weren’t supposed to win this, and we went down to the last pitch.”