Long Beach’s Tonianne Larson has one persistent thought during the playoffs.
“I want to take this team,” Larson said, “as far as it can go.”
The senior is doing it with her right arm and her bat. Larson was the winning pitcher and was 3-for-3 with a triple, two runs scored and two RBIs as No. 3 Long Beach defeated top-seeded East Meadow, 8-6, In Game 2 of the Nassau Class AA softball best-of-3 finals at Mitchel Athletic Complex on Wednesday.
East Meadow (18-2) won 2-0 on Tuesday, so the teams will play a winner-take-all Game 3 on Friday at Mitchel.
“I’m giving this my best shot,” Larson said, “so we can win this whole thing.”
She certainly is. Larson went the distance for Long Beach (14-8) which overcame an early 3-1 deficit with a five-run third inning. Katie Frisch (2-for-4) tied things up with a two-run home run.
“I usually crack under the pressure,” Frisch said, “but today I finally relaxed.”
Three batters later, Larson’s slashed a two-run triple, and later came into score as the Marines led 6-3. Long Beach scored twice more in the fourth to take an 8-3 lead.
“I was a little more focused on my hitting today,” Larson said. “I knew we had people on base and I had to get them in.”
East Meadow would not go away quietly and scored once in the fifth, and twice more in the seventh. The Jets had runners on second and third with two outs, but Larson induced a pop out to second baseman Eleanor Byrne to end the game and force a finale.
“They are the number one seed for as reason,” said Marines coach Carmine Verde of the Jets. “Tuesday’s game came down to the last hitter, today came down to the last hitter, and I hope Friday’s game does, too.”