LATE GAME HEROICS LEAD TO 1-1 TIE IN COUNTY SEMIFINALS
By Tristan Vitale
May 27, 2015 - Thus far, the Nassau County Class A semifinals featuring the No. 3 Vikings of North Shore and the No. 7 Red Devils of Plainedge have been nothing short of spectacular. After two dramatic games, both decided in walk-off fashion, the series is now tied 1-1 and will be decided in a do-or-die Game 3 at 4:30 pm this Thursday at North Shore High School.
Game 1 was a home game for the Vikings held on Memorial Day. North Shore looked very well prepared, starting off hot and scoring the game's first run in the second inning on a beautiful suicide squeeze down the first base line by Brendan Zbikowski that brought Liam Kearney home. Then in the third inning, Connor Lynn hit a two-out double and later scored on an infield single by Nick Lucchese to give North Shore a 2-0 lead.
Connor Hehn showed a nice mix of hard fastballs and off-speed pitches with great movement to keep the Plainedge batters in check. He pitched 6 1/3 innings for the Vikings, striking out four batters and allowing just six hits. However, Plainedge was able to chip away at the North Shore lead and scored two runs off of Hehn to send the game into extra innings in a 2-2 tie.
After a strong inning of relief pitching by Nick Lucchese in the eighth inning, the Vikings stepped up to bat with a chant to win the game. Senior Jack Aughavin led off the inning for North Shore. As the lead off batter, Aughavin was just looking to get on base, but he was able to do much more. After taking a first pitch ball, Aughavin, the team leader in home runs, wound up and hammered a fastball up and over the left field wall to lift the Vikings to a thrilling 3-2 victory. The mob of North Shore teammates that met Aughavin at home plate was a familiar sight as it was the Vikings' fourth walk-off win in their last five games.
Game 2 was just as entertaining. The game, held at Plainedge High School on Tuesday, began with an offensive explosion from the Vikings. Hit after hit after hit compiled for North Shore, leading to a massive five run first inning. However, Plainedge once again proved their resiliency and bit by bit chipped away at the 5-0 deficit.
Jack Aughavin had a solid start for North Shore, pitching five innings of three run ball and leaving the game with his team up 5-3.
In the seventh inning it looked like the game was over and the Vikings were ready to advance to the county finals, but the Red Devils had one last rally left in them. With two outs in the seventh and Plainedge still down by two runs, the Red Devils advanced the tying runs to second and third base on an errant throw by North Shore. The Vikings then intentionally walked the next batter to load the bases. Finally, in a full count with two outs and the bases loaded, Plainedge's Richie Whalen hit a blooper that hung in the air and fell perfectly between the center fielder and middle infielders of North Shore. All three base runners came around to score on the hit, resulting in a 6-5 walk-off win for the Red Devils which now sends the series into a third game.
After these two intense wins, and heartbreaking losses, Game 3 is set up for an epic showdown.