Going into the first game of the county Class A final series at Sayville on May 29, the top-seeded Golden Flashes had beaten the Bonackers both times the teams had met, 3-2 (in 10 innings) and 8-2.
In the latter game, played here May 18 — the regular season’s finale, with a share of the league championship at stake — Casey Waleko, Bonac’s sophomore starter, was roughed up in the fifth, by the end of which the visitors led 7-0, while her opposite number, Merissa Selts, cruised, thanks largely to an effective drop that resulted in a lot of ground ball outs.
But Tuesday, May 29, was a different day, the slate was clean, and this time it was East Hampton’s turn. Although nothing, said East Hampton’s coach, Lou Reale, who was seen exiting White’s Pharmacy the day after the 8-4 win, having bought some Tums, came easy.
“We went down in order in the top of the first. The first kid up for them flied deep to Dana [Dragone] in left field — there’s no fence there, so we played deep. Their second batter [Emily Sellitti] tripled, and Casey hit the next one [Selts]. That gave them runners at first and third with one out. They tried a suicide squeeze then. I hadn’t expected they would so early in the game. But the kid missed the bunt and Kathryn [Hess, the catcher] and Deryn [Hahn, the third baseman] did a great job catching her in a rundown. That was big — that failed suicide squeeze was a good pick-me-up.”
Hess led off what was to be a huge second inning for East Hampton with a home run down the left-field line that she legged out, bowling over the catcher, Olivia Kaczmarick, who was illegally blocking her path to the plate.
With two outs, Ali Harned, the shortstop, singled, and Shannon McCaffrey reached first base safely on an error by Sayville’s first baseman. Ceire Kenny, who hits ninth, drew a walk to load the bases.
Then Dragone hit a little nubber toward the mound, but Selts couldn’t make a play as Harned crossed the plate with Bonac’s second run. Hahn followed with a hard ground ball that Sayville’s second baseman, Jackie Christensen, booted, allowing McCaffrey to score, and Waleko, swinging on the first pitch, doubled in Kenny and Dragone for a 5-0 East Hampton lead. Hess was intentionally walked, loading the bases again, this time for Ellie Cassel, who doubled in Hahn and Waleko to make it 7-0. Ilsa Brzezinski, East Hampton’s first baseman, grounded out to first to end what had been a very productive inning.
Sayville wasn’t done, though. Waleko was greeted by a leadoff triple in the bottom of the third, a ball that got by Dragone as she tried to make a diving catch in left field. Then Hahn, rather than get the sure out, faked throws to first after gathering in a grounder hit her way, hoping, vainly, to catch the runner off third. Her rushed throw to first went wide, and Sayville was on the board, with a runner at second. Sellitti followed with a run-scoring double, and after Waleko recorded a strikeout, Kathleen Maehr, the tall right fielder, stroked a base hit to left for 7-3.
“The next girl grounded to Deryn, who got the force there,” said Reale, “and the next one hit the ball 275 feet. It would have been over the fence at our place, but Dana, who was playing deep, as I said, caught it.”
Each team went down in order in the fourth. Hess led off the fifth with a bullet down the third-base line, “but the girl made a great stop — it almost ripped her glove off — and threw Kathryn out.”
Cassel then singled, but she was stranded there as Brzezinski popped out and Harned grounded out to short.
Waleko hit the first batter to face her in the bottom of the fifth. The second one hit a shot to left that Dragone hauled in. Waleko hit the next batter, putting runners at first and second with one out, but Waleko retired the side on a flyout to Courtney Dess in center field and on a 6-3 groundout.
East Hampton made it 8-3 in the top of the seventh. After Hahn had grounded out and Waleko had flied out to the shortstop, Hess ripped a double to left. Cassel fouled the first pitch off her foot and was in tears when Reale arrived from the coach’s box behind third base and told her to stop crying and get a hit.
Therewith, Cassel “ripped a single to left that scored Kathryn. . . . Ellie had two singles, a double, and three r.b.i.s that day.”
Kira Karl turned on a Waleko delivery to lead off Sayville’s last at-bat, but Dragone ran it down. After Sellitti singled, “we made a couple more mistakes,” said Reale. “Selts bunted, Casey fielded it, but hesitated, first looking to second before throwing weakly to first. That gave them runners at first and second with the heart of their lineup coming up. They were going nuts out there.”
Maehr grounded out 6-3 as the runners advanced, and Cindy Griffen, the left fielder, drove in Sellitti with Sayville’s fourth run. Selts took third on the play, and Sellitti, with Nicole Petillo, Sayville’s dangerous designated hitter, up, stole second. But Petillo grounded out Harned-to-Brzezinski to end the game.
“It was exciting,” said Reale. “Three of those balls they hit would have been home runs over the fence here. But we played good defense, and we got the hits when we needed them. Casey gave up six hits, walked two, struck out five, and hit three batters. We had nine hits — Kathryn had two, the home run and the double, Ellie, as I said, had three, and Ali had two. We only left four runners on base. They left eight, which is a lot. . . . The kids are believing in themselves. Every single one of them has to do their job for us to win. They’re making the plays. It’s fun, the kids are having a good time.”
“No one gave us much of a chance against Sayville. Anything’s possible now.”