The Southampton baseball team won the League VIII title with a sweep of North Fork rival Mattituck (with scores of 3-1, 8-3, and 8-4 in the trio of games) last week.
A come-from-behind win in the second game of the series cemented the title for the Mariners, who finished the regular season with a 16-2 record.
In the pivotal game two, the Mariners were chasing the Tuckers for most of the game and had only two hits through five and a half innings of play. Their only scoring threat had been in the fifth, but with bases loaded, a pop fly to left field ended the inning. Mattituck was visibly pumped and jubilantly ran off the field, much to the chagrin of the Southampton faithful. But with two innings remaining and Southampton averaging almost 10 runs per game and amassing 178 runs for the season, this game was far from over. So when Kevin Edgar and Alex Soyars hit back-to-back singles to start off the bottom of the sixth, one could sense a big inning was coming.
After Garrett Pike drew a walk, winning pitcher Eddie McLaughlin got the Mariners on the board with a single to drive in Edgar, cutting the lead to 3-1.
Henry Egan followed with a bases-loaded single and drove in Pike to close the score to 3-2. Jake Marano then belted a bases-loaded double to drive in both Pike and McLaughlin for the game tying and winning runs. David Kirshy kept the rally going when he reached on an error, allowing both Egan and Marano to score
“Biggest hit of my life,” said Marano when asked about his at-bat. “He threw me a fastball, middle outside and I just went to right with it. I’ve never had that much fun playing before.” Marano was especially pleased with his hit as his grandparents were visiting from out of town to watch the game.
“They flew in to watch the last couple of games,” Marano said. “My grandpa is a big fan of the game, I saw a big smile on his face and it made me feel good.”
During the rally, play was stopped for about 30 minutes while paramedics attended to Mattituck’s catcher who went down with a leg injury. When play resumed, Wyatt Schmidt drew a walk, bringing Edgar up to bat again. He singled in Kirshy, and then Soyars followed up with his second hit of the inning driving in Schmidt to conclude the eight-run comeback rally.
Was their any pressure pitching in the last inning trying to hold the lead? Not according to McLaughlin.
“After all these years of doing it, you just get used to it I guess,” McLaughlin said. “Pressure doesn’t really faze me anymore.”
With a five-run cushion going into the top of the seventh, McLaughlin stayed in the game and shut the door on Mattituck by getting the first two batters to pop up and ground out. Marano then made a nifty catch in foul territory to end the game.
This was an important win for head coach Ike Birdsall against a tough Mattituck team. Had the Mariners lost this game, the pressure to win at Mattituck and a potential loss in the series final could have put their playoff scenario in an unfavorable light.
“We wanted to win and clinch the league championship on our home turf for the seniors and not worry about tomorrow’s game,” Birdsall said. “So now the playoffs are running through Southampton, that’s what we wanted to get accomplished.”
In the series opener, Schmidt continued his pitching dominance, hurling a two-hitter and holding Mattituck to just one run. Schmidt improved to 6-0 on the season striking out five batters and walking none as the Mariners won, 3-1.
Edgar provided some season-ending fireworks in the third game. Batting with the bases loaded, Edgar blasted a grand slam over the left center field fence in the top of the second inning to put the Mariners up 4-0. Edgar ended up going 3 for 4 with five RBIs at the plate. Garrett Pike kept the Tuckers in check and earned his third win as the Mariners won, 8-4.
With its regular season concluded, Southampton will now have to wait to see who they face in the opening round of the playoffs. The Class B playoffs are tentatively set to begin on Monday, May 20, at the higher seed’s home field.