The Valley Stream North baseball team had a whirlwind 72 hours last weekend while competing in the Nassau Class A playoffs, complete with weather delays and a draining two-school doubleheader that began with one of the greatest wins in program history.
The journey began last Friday, when the Spartans concluded an elimination game against Island Trees that began on May 15 before rain halted the contest in the top of the fifth inning. Valley Stream North led 7-1, but the Bulldogs got one run in the fifth and two more in the seventh before Tom Graziano came on to get the two-out save to preserve the victory.
Valley Stream North next visited Plainedge on Sunday because of rain the day before. And what a game it was.
The Spartans struck first with three runs in the third inning, keyed by Sean Rogers’ two-run single and an RBI single by Peter Knapp. The Red Devils got one back, but Valley Stream North added two more runs in the sixth on a wild pitch that kicked up the third base line. Speedy Joe Gisonda scored from second as the throw from the third baseman eluded the catcher to make it 5-1.
Plainedge scored twice in the bottom of the sixth and tied the game with two more runs in the seventh. The Red Devils loaded the bases with one out later in the frame, but Chris Manzi, who moved to right field after being the starting pitcher, caught a fly ball and threw out the runner trying to score from third to preserve the tie.
In the 10th inning, center fielder Anthony Franco threw out another runner attempting to score on a single that would have won the game for Plainedge and Manzi, who later moved to shortstop, started a double play in the 11th.
The Spartans broke the deadlock in the 13th when Chris Lynch doubled and scored on Knapp’s second RBI single of the game. Manzi re-entered the game in the bottom of the frame and survived a bases-loaded, two-out jam by getting the final Plainedge batter on a grounder to short.
“It was one of the longest and most exciting playoff game I’ve ever been a part of,” VSN coach Phil Sanfilippo said. “It might have been one the better playoff wins in Valley Stream baseball history since we moved to Class A.”
But the day was far from over. Due to the length of the game, the humid weather and two Spartans injured, team representatives after the game asked league officials to postpone the next playoff contest against MacArthur that was scheduled for later Sunday for a doubleheader on Monday, but the request was denied. North hung tough against the Generals and the teams were tied 1-1 in the fifth inning, but eventually lost 5-1 and were eliminated.
The Spartans finished 15-8. Graziano and Franco earned All-League honors, Manzi and catcher James Saracino garnered All-Conference recognition and Rogers and Gisonda had All-County seasons.