Ty Acker was waiting for the perfect moment.
The Sachem East shortstop took a first-pitch strike in the 10th inning, but said he knew he could make contact on the next pitch as soon as he saw it coming. Acker did just that, looping a hit into short right-center and driving in Ryan Micheli for the winning run as the Flaming Arrows defeated Floyd, 6-5, in their Suffolk I opener.
“First-pitch fastball was up and outside, so I took it, because I didn’t think I could drive it,” Acker said. “Next pitch, outside fastball, I knew I had to swing at it. I was able to take it the other way and get the job done.”
Micheli, who tied the score in the fifth on a Floyd balk, opened the 10th with a single into leftfield. He advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Andrew Oakland and raced home as soon as Acker put bat on ball.
“The pressure was up a little bit, but we managed to get through it,” Sachem East coach Kevin Schnupp said. “Our leaders kept it going, and it was good to see the young guys really contribute.”
Sachem East had chances to put the game away earlier. The Flaming Arrows had two on in the eighth, but Floyd worked an 8-6-4 double play to end the inning, and Sachem East was caught stealing to end the ninth. Acker said the nearly there moments fueled him even more when he got to the plate.
“Every inning we thought it was going to be our inning,” Acker said. “But eventually we got the situation we wanted, and we got it done. This really showed the greatness and the grit of our guys.”
Don Willie started the game at first and earned the win with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning and got a strikeout in the 10th to leave two runners stranded.
“We were really looking to have [Don] throw one inning, but he said he felt good,” Schnupp said. “He’s a competitor, he’s a tough kid and a gritty kid and we’ve got confidence in the guys around him.”
It wasn’t an easy win for Sachem East, but it was one the Flaming Arrows are proud of and one they hope will help define the rest of their season.
“This is huge,” Willie said. “We’ve won our first game, and playing through this, I think it really sets us up to do big things the rest of the year.”