GARRET MEADE PHOTO
North Fork pitcher Derek Lamacchia struck out nine as the Ospreys took the first game of the Hampton Division finals from Riverhead.
The North Fork Ospreys so thoroughly dominated the Hampton Division of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League this summer that they never needed a walk-off hit to win … until Monday night in a division semifinal.
Playing against the fourth-seeded Southampton Breakers, a team that swept a pair of regular-season-ending doubleheaders to make it into the playoffs, the top-seeded Ospreys pulled out a dramatic 3-2 victory in the bottom of the 10th inning on Eric Williams’ two-out, game-winning single that scored Brendan O’Brien at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic. The victory advanced the Ospreys to the division finals for the second year in a row. The best-of-three finals against the Riverhead Tomcats started Tuesday.
O’Brien started the winning rally when he drew a base on balls off of Jason Dierkes. Ryan Brockett sacrificed O’Brien over to second base. Sebastian Grazziani and Andrew Harris walked to load the bases with one out. Nick Lingvay then struck out swinging for the second out.
The Ospreys needed a hero. Enter Eric Williams.
Williams’ bloop single settled softly into the outfield grass, giving the Ospreys the thrilling victory.
“Eric has been swinging the bat well,” Ospreys Manager Shawn Epidendio said. “He’s a battler and super competitive. He’s the guy you want up there in that spot.”
The Ospreys headed into the do-or-die showdown with the Breakers having beaten their opponent eight of the 10 times they faced each other during the regular season. Epidendio’s team had scored 215 runs in its 41 regular-season games.
Southampton’s pitching staff had recently completed four doubleheaders in the past week, including a 4-0, 6-5 sweep over North Fork on Saturday.
But in Monday night’s semifinal, North Fork scratched out a run in both the second and third innings off of Southampton starter Jared Wagner to take the early lead. In the second, Lingvay singled and came around to score on Ryan Lee’s groundout to third. Billy Ferriter, who entered the game with a division-leading .373 batting average, led off the third with a double, Brockett singled and Grazziani grounded into a double play that scored Ferriter.
But the resilient Breakers rallied to tie the score in the fifth when Nick Ferraresi lined a two-run single off of the Ospreys’ starting pitcher, Aaron Snyder, to tie the score. Snyder scattered five hits over seven innings. He struck out nine.
Williams came on in relief and kept the Breakers off the scoreboard in the final three innings.
That set the stage for Williams’ game-winning hit.
“This means a lot in the playoffs,” Epidendio said. “Hopefully, we’ll keep the momentum and use it to propel us.”