To say the Southampton Mariners succumbed to adversity doesn’t begin to tell the tale of the East End’s hard luck high school baseball team.
Yes, the team fell sort of its goal of winning the Suffolk County Class A title, but the determination and fortitude the team showed along the way are the kinds of qualities only winners have.
The Mariners rallied to finish 10-10 in league VIII and give themselves a shot at the playoffs, though the team was seeded 11th and last and had to qualify for the playoffs by winning an out-bracket game against Mt. Sinai, the sixth seeded team, on May 14. And the Mariners pulled it off.
That win gave the locals the dubious honor of traveling to Sayville on May 17 to play the powerful Golden Flashes, and Southampton lost. Down but not out, the locals rallied at East Islip four days later to top the home team and stay alive in the double-elimination tournament.
Which brings us, rather laboriously, back to Sayville and a repeat against the third seed on May 23. Any thoughts the home team harbored of a knock out were quickly dismissed when Southampton jumped out to a shocking 8-2 lead. What followed was an epic affair the likes of which Suffolk County high school baseball has rarely seen. The two teams simply refused to lose, hammering each other with roundhouses only to rise from the canvas again and again.
Give the Golden Flashes their due. After Southampton took command, courtesy of a Jayden Pepitone grand slammer, the home team rallied not once, or twice, but three times, closing the gap to 8-6 in the fifth inning.
Southampton’s Will Raffel responded with a two-run double but improbably the miracle Flashes pushed home four runs in the bottom of the seventh (the last regulation inning) to knot things at 10.
Sayville then loaded the bases as well. In came the sophomore Thomas Gabriele, striking out three batters, to get out of the jam.
The Mariners loaded up the bases themselves the next inning only to be thwarted by the old hidden ball trick, which unleashed some angry conversation and threats of protesting the game.
Darkness set in, leaving the drained teams on the verge of physical exhaustion. The next day finally spelled the end for the locals. The Flashes put together a run on two hits in the bottom of the 12th to send the Mariners home for good. As of this writing, Sayville is still alive in the tournament.