After watching his team lose to Hampton Bays on April 14 and fall to 3-4 on the season, Southampton baseball head coach Scott Johnson applied a little pep-talk pressure.
“We told the kids that every game moving forward is a playoff game,” he said.
It seemed to work.
The Mariners have since won five straight games to improve to 7-5, winning the series with Hampton Bays by taking the final two games and then emerging with a sweep of Mercy last week in three hard-fought games. Southampton edged the Monarchs, 2-1, on April 21 in Riverhead, beat Mercy 2-0 at home the next day, and completed the sweep with a 7-4 win at Mercy on Friday.
As of Monday, the Mariners needed just three wins to assure that they’d finish with a .500 record, the requirement for making the playoffs. Southampton was slated to begin a three-game series with second-place Babylon (9-3) this week, and then will face each team in the league once more, a total of five more games. In other words, they needed to win three of their last eight games to get in.
In the first win over Mercy, Nick Petty scored the game-winner in the eighth inning, breaking a 1-1 tie, off an RBI hit by Michael Cenzoprano. Nick Knoebel went the full eight innings for the win, striking out 10, walking three and allowed three hits and one earned run. Mercy put runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but the Mariners got the final out to preserve the win. Aidan Roughan was 2 for 5 in the game, while Kevin Dexter was 1 for 2 with an RBI.
In the second game, Mariner Garrett Pike put in another complete-game effort for his team, striking out eight with two walks and three hits in seven innings of work. Southampton had 10 hits on the day, led by Knoebel and Nick Marano, who were both 1 for 3 with an RBI. Roughan and Garrett Pike scored both of Southampton’s runs.
The third game was tied at 1-1 after the first inning before Southampton scored three to go up 4-1 in the second. Southampton led 7-1 after five innings before Mercy tacked on a few runs.
Roughan allowed three hits and two earned runs in five innings of work before Chad Pike pitched two innings in relief with three strikeouts. Danny Beckman was 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs, while Knoebel was 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run.