SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS C TOURNAMENT | FIRST SETTLERS 15, ROYALS 7
Crazy game, this baseball. One inning you’re a potential goat after the opposing team finds you batting out of order. The next inning you’re the hero after driving in the winning runs.
Take, for example, what happened to eighth-grader Dylan Clausen in second-seeded Southold’s stunning 15-7 comeback home victory over No. 3 Port Jefferson in the Suffolk County Class C playoffs on Friday.
With Southold trailing by 7-5 in the fifth inning, the designated hitter smacked a one-out single, but the Royals alerted the umpires that Clausen and Dillon Engels were batting out of order in the seventh and eighth positions, respectively, for the entire game. So, Clausen was called out.
“That was not good,” Clausen said. “I did not like that at all. This game was confusing in the beginning. The ending was great.”
With the score tied an inning later, Clausen received an opportunity to redeem himself by belting a three-run double to key a remarkable 10-run inning in the opening game of the double-elimination tournament.
“They hang in there. They don’t give up,” Southold coach Mike Carver said. “They’re relentless. That’s the story of our season. They’ve been down in games. They hang in, hang in there, hang in there and they come through. Today’s a perfect example.”
The same can be said of Clausen, who played for the junior varsity team for most of the year before he was called up to the varsity late in the season.
After striking out his first two at-bats, Clausen tried to start a Southold rally by singling to left field, but moments later Port Jefferson coach Jesse Rosen alerted the umpires that Clausen and Engels had been batting out of order. Clausen became the second out of the inning as Engels struck out swinging to end it.
“It just got mixed up,” Clausen said. “It was messed up.”
Southold held a 5-0 lead before Port Jefferson (6-13) rallied against starter Alex Poliwoda with a run in the third, five runs in the fourth and another run in the fifth.
“We have to clear up our mental mistakes,” Carver said. “You saw the jitters with the lineup. They batted out of order. They were all over the place. It was an emotional week for them. The prom. They knew they were going to be late for the prom today. But it was tough.”
Asked if the players got mixed up because they have first names that sound exactly the same, Carver replied: “I don’t know what they did. I’m sure glad the coach didn’t wait until the last inning to bring to my attention that we did it.”
By then, the First Settlers had tied it up on Poliwoda’s run-scoring single and Anthony Esposito’s bases-loaded walk against the losing pitcher, Eric Esposito. Poliwoda finished with three runs batted in.
That brought up Clausen, who admitted there was not much on his mind.
“I wasn’t thinking at all,” he said. “I didn’t know the bases were loaded. I was taking deep breaths because I didn’t want to disappoint my team. I just wanted to keep it going.
“I was paying attention to the pitcher because I was thinking of what pitch he was going to pitch me.”
Clausen drove the ball to deep left field, clearing the bases. Southold sent 15 batters to the plate that inning as starting catcher Anthony Fedele, the winning pitcher in relief, added a two-run double and Shayne Johnson (three hits, four runs) a two-run single.
The First Settlers (14-7) will play No. 1 Pierson/Bridgehampton (19-1) on Monday for a spot in the county final. They lost all four of their League IX games to the Whalers this season.
“They beat us. We weren’t the same team as we are now, but they beat us,” Carver said. “We should have had them in Game 3 [a 14-9 Pierson/Bridgehampton win on April 10], but we blew it, too many errors. That’s the game we had the best chance at winning. So, who knows? No. 1 is real tough. On any given day, anything can happen. Who can say we would score 10 runs in the sixth inning? No way, but I’ll take it.
“Any playoff win is a good feeling.”