After underachieving a bit during the regular season, Oceanside is peaking at the right time and halfway to the Nassau Class AA baseball championship.
The Sailors, seeded 10th in the 12-team county playoff tournament, swept top-seeded Mepham in last week’s best-of-three quarterfinal series while allowing just two runs in the process. Senior pitchers Jake Santamaria and Chris Hood were both lights-out against a Pirates lineup that produced double digits in runs in nine of 17 regular-season games.
“We’ve had our share of ups and downs, but we were in the toughest conference in Nassau County in my opinion and we battled,” Oceanside coach Mike Postilio said. “We felt all along we’d be dangerous if we got into the playoffs because of our pitching. We have four legitimate starters and we’re confident in each of them.
“To shutout Syosset [to open the playoffs] and then hold a team like Mepham to one run on back-to-back days is tremendous,” he added. “We’ve given up three runs in our last four games.”
Hood, who had a complete-game 2-0 victory over Syosset on May 10, also went the distance four days later in the series clincher against Mepham. He yielded a solo homer to C.J. Meyer in the top of the second inning, but the Sailors responded with runs in the third and seventh to win it.
The walk-off winning run scored on a throwing error. With sophomore Brandy Diaz on first after reaching on a wild pitch on strike three, sophomore Nick Vlahakis popped a bunt to third base that dropped. In an attempt to erase Diaz, a throw from Mepham’s pitcher sailed into the outfield and allowed Diaz to score. The home crowd erupted and Diaz, who also scored Oceanside’s first run, soon found himself in a celebration pile near the plate. “We wanted to put the pressure on their defense,” Postilio said. “Nick bunted for a hit earlier in the game, so instead of a straight steal with Diaz we decided to try to move him over and it worked out well.”
In the series opener on May 12, the Sailors gave Santamaria plenty of run support and the southpaw did the rest. He scattered five hits and struck out seven in an 8-1 victory. “Jake pitched great and the defense was strong behind him,” Postilio said. The offense came out swinging. Senior Tom Pallatto had a two-run double in the first, and junior John Condon roped a two-run double in the second.
“We’re the lowest seed remaining,” said Postilio, whose team gets No. 5 Plainview-JFK in the best-of-three semifinals this week. “It’s nice to get a couple of days to rest and regroup.”