Aitor Nunez of Uniondale crosses home after teammate Jadon Pineda singled during...

Aitor Nunez of Uniondale crosses home after teammate Jadon Pineda singled during a game against Westbury on Monday at LIU. Credit: Dawn McCormick

The final out had been recorded to secure Uniondale’s first victory of the season and Xzavier Whyte stood along the first-base line and swept his hand in the direction of the baseball diamond, a slight smile on his face.

“This was a great experience and it’s what I want after high school,” the Knights’ junior leftfielder said. “Playing on college fields is where I want to be.”

Westbury coach Ryan Mulholland saw an opportunity to make Monday’s Countywide Conference non-division game into something a little special when Long Island University made its baseball stadium available to the teams. The players from both teams got what Mulholland hoped for, though his Dragons let a three-run lead after two innings slip away into a 20-6 run-ruled Uniondale win.

“We don’t have playoffs in our [conference] so these players won’t get the chance to play a postseason game at a Farmingdale State or anything like that,” Mulholland said. “And our kids might not get the opportunity to play on fields like this, so we were very fortunate LIU was willing to host us.”

“I have to hand it to [Mulholland] because our players had a great experience,” said Uniondale coach Ciro Gentile, whose club will play every game on the road this season while their home field undergoes renovation. “It’s so valuable to bring your team to a college stadium and for them to see a college campus. It’s a motivator and will [serve] them if they play at the next level.”

The Knights'  first innings on the big stage were less than stellar as they fell into a 4-1 hole after two innings. In the fourth, however, the Uniondale bats broke out for a 10-run rally that included a two-run single by Whyte from the eighth spot in the lineup and a two-run double from Aitor Nunez from the nine-hole.

Nunez finished 3-for-3 with three doubles and three RBIs and Justher Lara drove in a pair of runs for Uniondale (1-1). Alexis Galdamez had a stolen base and scored two runs for Westbury (0-3).

“It’s a mental game and we were behind and needed to get serious,” said Nunez, the junior rightfielder. “We finally did in the fourth inning . . . it was the team morale, having everyone cheering your name from the [dugout]. It got us past our [early] mistakes.”

“We preach that it’s what happens next that matters,” Gentile said. “I told them that the [miscues] had happened, but that it was what we do next that counts. We had to put them aside and get the job done. I’m proud of them for doing that.”

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