CLASS A COUNTY FINALS, GAME 3 | PHANTOMS 1, WILDCATS 0
A heavy rainstorm that hit the area Monday forced the final game of the Class A county finals between Shoreham-Wading River and Bayport-Blue Point to be postponed. Lingering rain Tuesday pushed it back another day.
As the clouds finally broke Wednesday, and the sun shined down, the highly-anticipated Game 3 featuring two stud pitchers had finally arrived.
And the wait, at least for the Phantoms, was well worth it.
After both team’s aces traded zeros through seven innings, the Phantoms broke through with a one out, walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth to take the decisive third game of the series, 1-0, in Bayport.
The Phantoms clinched their third consecutive county championship and second straight at the Wildcats’ expense. Bayport will play Saturday in the Long Island Championship game in pursuit of a third straight state title.
Shoreham sophomore Brian Morrell and Bayport senior P.J. Weeks were both outstanding on the mound. Neither pitcher allowed a run and both escaped brutal jams, bringing back memories to the epic 2012 Long Island Championship game the Wildcats lost against Plainedge where both team’s starters pitched shutouts through 10 innings.
The Wildcats loaded the bases in the seventh inning with nobody out, but couldn’t push across a run. Weeks buckled down to strike out two batters and then got a groundout to end the inning and send the Phantoms fans that lined the first base line into a frenzy.
The Phantoms loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning with two out against Morrell before he also got a grounder to escape unharmed.
Morrell, who was 2-0 in the postseason, gave up just three hits over seven innings. He struck out six and walked five.
Shoreham coach Kevin Willi elected to go the bullpen in the eighth inning after Morrell had thrown 122 pitches. He brought in senior Matt Fox, who had shutout Bayport in Game 2.
Fox retired the first batter before Scott Schultz hit a single to shallow right. Rob Acierno followed with a ground-rule double down the right field line, putting runners on second and third. The No. 9 hitter in the lineup, Kyle Lawrence, followed with a single to center field to win it for the Phantoms.
It was the first run Bayport scored against Shorheam in the last 14 innings of the series.
Weeks has now thrown 22 scoreless innings this postseason to improve to 3-0. Dating back to the regular season, when he shut out the Wildcats May 11, he has thrown 29 straight scoreless innings. He’s pitched eight shutouts this season.
Weeks gave up five hits Wednesday and struck out five. He walked one batter and hit two.
Going back to last year, Weeks has a 6-0 record in the playoffs with five shutouts, head coach Jim Moccio said.
The Wildcats were on the cusp of breaking through against Weeks in the seventh. Miles Kelly led off with a double to right field on a high fly ball that nearly left the park. Mike Keller followed with a single to left and he stole second during the next at-bat.
It set up a potential squeeze situation, which the Wildcats executed in a similar situation in Game 2. Willi chose not to go that route and the next batter, Chris Sperruzzi drew a walk to load the bases.
Weeks, who wasn’t overpowering, dug deep to get two of his five strikeouts when he needed them most.