As the Nassau Class A baseball playoffs line up and begin to unfold in the coming days and weeks, there will be teams that find themselves matched up against South Side. They should feel uncomfortable about that and for good reason.
The Cyclones announced they are ready for anyone and anything on Wednesday by staging a huge comeback against Bethpage for a 9-8 walk-off Nassau A-III win at their Barasch Field home away from home. Andrew Fingleton completed the comeback from an 8-1 deficit with a game-ending, three-run double to the base of the wall in right-centerfield.
South Side (16-2, 16-2) staged a mob scene around Fingleton at second base after the winning run had crossed the plate and it seemed well-choreographed. The Cyclones have four walk-off wins this season, two in the past three days as they swept the Golden Eagles (12-7, 12-6) in the teams’ three-game regular season series.
Asked if he felt his team is ready for the postseason – the field will be set by Friday – Cyclones coach Tom Smith replied, “we are very ready.”
“You look at a game like today where we put ourselves in a hole and they don't ever lose faith,” he said. “They look at each other. They know that they can play with anybody.”
In the 2021 season, reshaped by the coronavirus pandemic, South Side and Bethpage both won county conference championships. The Cyclones had 11 players back and are angling for a "true" county title.
“They’re very confident that we can make a run again,” Smith said.
South Side loaded the bases with no outs as Daniel Fuentes and Rob Pericolosi put singles around a Daniel Russell walk. Fingleton came up with two outs and was quickly in an 1-and-2 hole. He battled back to a full count before driving a fastball away over the heads of the Eagles outfielders.
“I was just reading and reacting, ready to hit a pitch,” Fingleton said. “I love a situation like that. It’s nerve-wracking but exciting.”
Chris Downes had a two-run single in the first inning, Brian Lunetta had a two-run single in a four-run second and Sean Seely and Conor Burns had back-to-back run scoring singles in the third for the 8-1 Eagles lead.
Chris Rosenbaum got the Cyclones back in the game, helping set the stage for Fingleton’s walk-off heroics. He pitched four innings of scoreless relief with five strikeouts. And in the bottom of the sixth he hit a three-run triple to left centerfield to cut the margin to 8-6.
“I hit a breaking ball to the gap and when I got to second and saw we’d scored three I knew we could win the game,” Rosenbaum said. “I know what this team can do in the last inning because we’ve done it before.
“A win like this gets you ready [for the postseason],” he added. “We showed that no matter how big the hole, we can get out of it and win the game.”