The Babylon Panthers varsity baseball team took the next step in its 2012 playoff run with a come-from-behind victory, 5-3, over the Oyster Bay Baymen to clinch the Long Island Championship at Farmingdale State College on Monday afternoon.
Trailing 3-1 in the top of the sixth inning, the Panthers worked the bases load with one out as third baseman Sander Shanks came to the plate. He nailed a single up the middle to push two runners across the plate and tie the game at three. The next batter up, shortstop Matt Finelli, laced a double to score the go-ahead run and give Babylon a 4-3 lead in what became a four-run inning and the eventual 5-3 final score.
"We got a couple of base hits to break up the no-hitter and you could see the pitcher get a little flustered and we capitalized," said Babylon Coach Anthony Sparacio. "We scored a couple of runs and that got us through."
It was a tough start for Babylon on day – their fielding, playing on the tough turf field at Farmingdale, betrayed starting pitcher Max Watt by committing five errors over the first four innings.
"He said before the game, 'Guys, things might happen or go bad out there, but I will never quit on you,'" said Coach Sparacio. "He came to through and you could see the results. He kept his composure out there."
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Watt gave up two runs in the first and another run in the second before both he and his defense settled down. Watt got the win, pitching seven innings for a complete game, striking out seven Baymen on the day, including the final batter of the game.
"He shut them down in the end," said Coach Sparacio. "He was showing his senior leadership by coming through."
It almost didn't end in celebration for the Panthers – the team was being no hit by opposing starting pitcher Joe Siringo for the first five innings. The Panthers managed to scratch across a run in the fifth inning without a hit, using a three-base error and sacrifice fly to push across a run.
"It's unbelieveable," said Coach Sparacio, who saw his team lose last year in the Long Island Championship. "This is a senior team and they wanted to get back here. They took it to them and they never quit. There is just no quit in this team at all."
Babylon is now 21-2 over all on the 2012 season and will play again today at East Hampton High School at 4:00pm, facing off against Section I champion Briarcliff.