Queen’s classic 1977 hit song “We Are The Champions” blared through the speakers Monday afternoon at Sayville High School, as the Sayville baseball team stormed onto the field to celebrate its first county championship in school history.
Alex Millwater’s single through the drawn-in infield with none out in the bottom of the fifth inning drove in pinch runner Kevin Lederer to break a 3-3 tie and help lead Sayville to an 8-3 win over defending county champion Rocky Point in Game 2 of the best-of-three Suffolk Class A finals.
“We practice a two-strike approach all the time,” Millwater said. “I was going up there looking for a great pitch to drive. I got one and took advantage of it.”
Sayville (20-6-1) will face Clarke, the Nassau Class A champions, in the Long Island championship Saturday at 7 p.m. at SUNY-Old Westbury.
After Rocky Point (19-6) tied the score at 3 in the top of the inning on a two-out, RBI single by Alex Bonacci, Sayville’s freshman catcher Jack Quinlan helped change the momentum.
Bonacci attempted to steal second base to get into scoring position, but Quinlan fired a bullet to second, nabbing him to end the inning.
“I was trying to just stay within myself,” Quinlan said. “Coming off the field, the guys were hyped.”
Quinlan led off the bottom of the inning with a rocket single off the leftfield wall, before being pinch ran for by Lederer. Evan Geffner followed with a double down the rightfield line, setting up Millwater’s go-ahead RBI.
With runners on the corners and John Gaconnier at bat, Millwater took off for second and the throw sailed into centerfield allowing Geffner to trot home. A few pitches later, Gaconnier crushed a double to deep center to drive in Millwater, capping a three-run inning.
Leadoff hitter Thomas Nielsen launched the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the first over the wall in left to give Sayville a 1-0 lead. The centerfielder also made an outstanding diving catch in the sixth inning to prevent a potential Rocky Point rally.
Winning pitcher Eric Foster struck out six in a complete game and allowed nine hits, three earned runs and two walks.
Sayville coach Joe Esposito, who played for the school 20 years ago, recognized that the title was a long time coming.
“There has been a long line of coaches that have been here, from coach [Barry] Fitzpatrick, to coach Ryan Cox.” he said. “Ryan made the playoffs 14 years in a row and kept getting closer, and this year we finally got it. It’s huge for the town, for the program and everyone who played baseball at Sayville.”