There’s Johnny Football and then there’s Johnny Baseball. On Wednesday, Johnny Baseball made a diving catch on a Joe Stockman line drive for the final out as West Islip survived a 6-4 thriller over Northport to capture its second Suffolk Class AA championship in three years.
With a runner on first base and two outs, coach Shawn Rush brought in reliever Ray Weber to end Northport’s three-run seventh-inning rally. Stockman drove Weber’s first pitch into right-center, where rightfielder John Risedorf got a great jump and made a feet-first, sliding catch to set off a wild celebration.
“It was going to take a catch like that to end one of our comebacks,” Northport coach John DeMartini said. “It’s been this way for us all season. We never give up, show so much heart and battle.”
West Islip (24-5) moved into the Long Island Class AA championship game against the winner of Wednesday night’s Massapequa/East Meadow game.
“He’s been coming to our West Islip baseball camps since the third grade and that’s where he earned the nickname Johnny Baseball,” Rush said of Risedorf. “He’s got great speed and robbed that guy of a hit.”
Northport (20-8) rallied against James Kory in the seventh. Kory, who was also the winning pitcher in 2014 when West Islip beat Half Hollow Hills West for the Class AA title, allowed only two hits and struck out seven through six innings as West Islip built a 6-1 lead. Kory (8-0) retired 16 of 17 batters from the first through the sixth, but Northport scratched out an unearned run in the third on a wild pitch to tie the score at 1.
“I felt great and we were playing tight defense,” Kory said.
West Islip led 1-0 on Lou Antos’ RBI single in the second inning. The Lions broke open a 1-1 game with five runs in the fourth, keyed by three run-scoring singles from Antos, Weber and Kory for a 6-1 lead.
Third baseman Antos, who returned from labrum surgery this season, was a standout leadoff man and a rock on defense. He spent last spring as a designated hitter, unable to throw after dislocating his right shoulder in the season opener on a head-first slide into first base.
“He’s a huge part of our success,” Kory said. “He does it all.”
Along with the 1-2 pitching punch of Weber and Kory and an explosive offense led by Antos and Jake Guercio, it was the rightfielder known as Johnny Baseball who put a cap on this championship.
“I had a good read on the ball and came in hard to be aggressive and make the play,” Risedorf said. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world to make a play like that and win the title.”