The seventh-seeded Herricks Highlanders defeated the 10-seed Baldwin Bruins 7-4 in the Nassau Class AA first round playoff game on Monday afternoon, led by Jonathan Vargas.
Vargas threw six innings of relief and allowed one run while Michael Lee went 4 for 4 with two RBIs and a run scored.
Lee and Jordan Chin, who went 1 for 2, each drove in a pair of runs as part of a six-run rally in the bottom of the fourth inning for Herricks.
Stephon Strategakos led Baldwin with two runs batted in while Alan Drew and David Algoza each drove in a run to round out the offense.
Herricks head coach Rich Bizelia said Vargas’ effort on the mound gave them a chance to win as they grinded away to earn their first playoff victory since 2006.
“We were down by four runs early, but the boys never quit and put together some good at bats,” Bizelia said. “We hit the ball really well and John came in for relief in the second inning and basically shut the door. He kept the game where it needed to be in order for us to get back into it.”
In the top of the first inning, Baldwin struck early with three runs against Herricks starting pitcher Peyton Maier.
Strategakos hit a two run double to right field to give Baldwin a 2-0 lead.
Two batters later, Drew drove in Strategakos with a single to right as Baldwin led by three.
In the bottom of the first inning, Herricks had an opportunity to get on the board with a man on second and one out.
Baldwin starting pitcher Mike Ahearn got Eric Del Valle to ground out and struck out Vargas to end the threat.
In the top of the second, Maier allowed the first two batters on base with a single and a hit by pitch, forcing Bizelia to bring in Vargas to finish the inning.
After walking Anderson Moreno, Vargas escaped a bases loaded jam with no outs.
Vargas got Chris Morro to fly out to left fielder Will Arena and Fred Lucas to hit into an inning ending double play.
In the top of the third inning, Baldwin added an insurance run on an infield single by Algoza to take a 4-0 lead.
In the bottom of the third inning, Herricks had the bases loaded with one out and a chance to rally.
Ahearn got Del Valle to ground into an inning-ending double play to keep Herricks scoreless.
Del Valle hit a ground ball to Lucas, who stepped on third and threw the ball home to nail Chin at the plate.
Herricks finally broke through in the bottom of the fourth inning with six runs.
With two on and no outs, Andrew Imperatore drove in Vargas with a single to right field to make it a three run game.
After Arena drew a walk to load the bases, Chin followed up with a two run double to center to cut the lead to one.
Ahern retired Brian Diaz and John Bono on a couple of ground balls, keeping the go ahead runs in scoring position.
Lee smacked a two-run single up the middle and Del Valle added a double to left center to give Herricks a 6-4 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Herricks tacked on another run on a fielder’s choice by Diaz.
In the top of the sixth inning, Baldwin had the tying run at the plate with two on and two outs.
Vargas got Strategakos to strike out looking to end the inning.
Vargas said a big factor in his performance on the mound was the effective use of his changeup, as well as some help from the defense.
“I was just trying to throw strikes and keep the ball away,” Vargas said. “I used my changeup to get them out in front of the pitches and it worked. I got them to hit a lot of ground balls and fly balls and the defense was able to make the plays.”
In the top of the seventh inning, Vargas allowed a leadoff single to Jake Myles but was able to retire the next three batters, as Herricks went on to win 7-4.
Monday, May 15
Wheatley defeated Carle Place 6-2. Matt Cristina led second seeded Wheatley with a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning to take a 3-2 lead in the Nassau Class B Game 1 semifinal over third seed Carle Place.
Will Feil had a two-run double in the bottom of the third inning to tie the game at two for Wheatley while Nick Papageorge added a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning to extend the lead to four. Wheatley starting pitcher Stephen McCleary pitched a complete game and allowed five hits, two walks, and struck out six.
Manhasset upset Carey 12-2. Jamie Weiss led 15th seeded Manhasset over second seed Carey in the Nassau Class A first round game by going 3 for 5 with a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored. Weiss struck out 11 batters through six innings while Freddy Giovanelli went 3 for 4 with a walk, a home run, two RBIs and two runs scored. Teddy Urban went 2 for 3 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI while Jay Schlaefer led off with a home run for Manhasset.
Plainedge defeated Mineola 8-2. Nick DeMicco led third seeded Plainedge over fourteenth seed Mineola in the Nassau Class A first round playoffs with a pair of three run home runs. DeMicco’s first home run came in the bottom of the first inning to give Plainedge a 3-2 lead. Plainedge starter Billy Wildeman pitched a complete game and allowed eight hits, two earned runs and one walk, while striking out seven.
Floral Park defeated Seaford 5-1. Michael Baldini led eighteenth seeded Floral Park over top seed Seaford in the Nassau Class A first round playoffs with an RBI double to take a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning. Jack Dixon drove in a run while Chris Stefl homered for Floral Park. Starting pitcher Kyle Bacchus tossed a complete game and allowed one run and five walks while striking out eight. Bacchus also drove in the last two runs for Floral Park.
Hicksville defeated Port Washington 11-5. Joe Sarni’s three-run homer highlighted a six-run fifth inning that gave ninth seeded Hicksville an 8-4 lead over eighth-seed Port Washington in the Nassau Class AA first round playoff game. Joe Crocito went 3 for 3 with a double, a triple and two RBIs, while J.J. Bernet tossed three hitless innings in relief to earn the win.