Before last Friday’s series finale at home against league foe East Meadow, Oceanside baseball coach Mike Postilio called his club’s shot matter-of-factly.
Winners of eight straight Nassau Conference AA2 games before back-to-back one-run losses to the Jets, the Sailors – Postilio said – were ready to resume their playoff-bound stride and avoid a series sweep after a road bump.
“We’ve been resilient, and I expect the same to happen (in the finale),” said Postilio, whose team – among other statement wins in a bounce-back season – took the final two of its three-game set against AA2 leader Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK in April. “I expect we’ll get our bats going again,” he added.
The prediction might have further included silencing the Jets’ bats, as lefthanded Sailors junior Patrick Pallentino tossed six innings without an allowed earned run to boost his team-best record to 4-0 as Oceanside – almost a year removed from its first missed postseason in a decade – clung to its share of a virtual tie atop AA2 with an 8-2 win over East Meadow on May 5.
Junior outfielder/reliever Jake Lunenfeld supplied a sufficiency of runs for the Sailors (11-4 AA2, 11-5 overall), driving in three while team batting leader Sean Varon (.495 average) – a junior shortstop – and sophomore Luke Villella (.462) – who leads the club in runs batted in (25) – knocked in a pair apiece as Oceanside’s eight runs against the Jets marked the 11th time this season the Sailors have reached or exceeded the figure. Oceanside surpassed its six-win total from last season two weeks into this year’s schedule.
“We were young last year,” Postilio said. “These kids were getting varsity experience; it would have been a bonus if we’d made the playoffs. This year their maturity is evident. The game isn’t as fast for them because they’ve seen it.”
“Most important is how we’re playing after next week, in the playoffs” added Postilio. “But we’ve been on a good offensive run.”
Senior first baseman Peter Davies (.429), whose run-scoring hit in Friday’s victory gave him 21 RBIs to rank second on the Sailors, leads the team with eight doubles while his home run collected two games earlier ties him for team lead with Lunenfeld and All-Conference sophomore center fielder Kyle Scheurer, who had an inside-the-parker in a non-league loss at defending Nassau and Long Island Class A champion Calhoun on April 19.
Back behind the plate after shoulder surgery limited him to DH duties last season, senior catcher Ryan McFall is second on the Sailors batting .469. “Ryan’s been a workhorse and great with our rotation,” said Postilio, whose staff is led by ace Mike Furst – club leader with 43 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings – and fellow senior righthander Jack Schulz (38 strikeouts in 25 innings), whose four wins (4-1) alongside Pallentino are tied for second most in AA2.
With the Sailors’ return to form all but established in a season-opening 6-4 win over reigning Long Island champion Massapequa, Postilio noted Oceanside’s goals have kept up with its expanded horizon. “If we sweep (our last series) we could win the conference,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Oceanside wraps its regular season with a one-home/two-away league series against Port Washington (10-3 AA2) this week.