Combining lights-out pitching, stellar defense, and clutch hitting is usually a recipe for great success on the baseball diamond and that’s exactly what Oceanside has done in the Nassau Class AA playoffs.
The Sailors, seeded No. 10 in the 12-team county tournament, are in the finals for the first time since winning it all in 2004. They swept last week’s best-of-three semifinal series against fifth-seeded Plainview-JFK and allowed just two runs in the process. The clincher came at home May 21 when senior Tom Pallatto singled home sophomore Nick Vlahakis with two outs in the bottom of the eighth for a walk-off 2-1 victory.
“It’s been an amazing ride and we want to keep it going,” Oceanside coach Mike Postilio said. “We’ve gotten a full team effort every game. Our pitching and defense have been tremendous, and we’re getting big hits when we need them.”
Vlahakis led off the eighth with a double but was still on second base with two outs when Pallatto knocked a single to left to drive him home. Vlahakis drove in the team’s first run with a double in the third. Senior Pat Broder picked up the win in relief, allowing just one hit while striking out four over the last 3 2/3 innings. “Pat’s been hugely effective every time we’ve called on him,” Postilio said of Broder, who replaced senior starter Chris Hood (three hits, six walks, three strikeouts, no earned runs.)
The Sailors advanced to take on sixth-seeded Massapequa, the defending Nassau and Long Island Class AA champs, in the best-of-three title series beginning May 28 at Farmingdale College at 4 p.m. Game two is set for Thursday at 7 p.m., and if necessary the third and deciding game will be played Saturday at a time to be determined.
“It’s going to be a great test to try to beat them,” Postilio said of Massapequa, which took two of three Conference AA-I meetings with Oceanside. “They’re a good hitting and balanced team.”
Senior pitcher Jake Santamaria, who blanked the Chiefs over 6 2/3 in the regular-season finale, has been nothing short of dominant in the playoffs, Postilio said. The southpaw was in complete command in the opening game of the Plainview series, a 3-1 road win on May 20, scattering three hits, walking none, and striking out nine. The Sailors scored runs in the second, third and seventh innings. Sophomore Brandy Diaz, who like Vlahakis had three big outfield putouts in the series clincher, went 2-for-2 with two stolen bases and scored twice.