With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the seventh and Calhoun trailing Mepham by three runs in Friday’s decisive third game of their Nassau Class A baseball semifinal series, Joey Goodman just hoped to make contact at the plate and keep the defending champs alive.
Down to his last strike and with the season hanging in the balance, Goodman swung the ultimate swing. His grand slam over the fence in left gave the second-seeded Colts a stunning 6-5 walk-off victory before a standing-room-only crowd at Joe Corea Field, scoring Ryan Pucella, Jordan Babbo and Brian Sanchez in front of him.
“I wanted to hit the ball hard somewhere,” said Goodman, who was mobbed as part of a wild celebration at home plate. “It felt good off the bat but I wasn’t sure if it had enough to go out,” he added. “I didn’t see it go over the fence but as soon as I rounded first I saw everyone jumping around and going crazy. It was fun.”
Calhoun (24-2), which captured Nassau and Long Island Class A titles last spring, advanced to face top-seeded Division in the best-of-three county championship series beginning Sunday at SUNY Farmingdale. Mepham finished 19-5-1.
“This is the most insane ending I’ve ever been a part of,” Calhoun assistant coach Steven DiMarco said. “We had guys on base every inning but couldn’t get any clutch hits. We waited until we were down to our last strike. It was amazing.
“Both teams played their hearts out,” he added. “Great crowds every day and three one-run games.”
Mepham, the No. 5 seed in the 16-team tournament, took Tuesday's series opener on the road, 2-1, behind pitcher Bryce Bowers, who also started Friday. Bowers tossed a complete game in the win and was backed by a Steven Mulqueen homer.
Calhoun evened the series Wednesday with a 5-4 extra-inning victory. Goodman scored the winning run on an error in the top of the eighth as the Colts overcame another Mulqueen dinger. Pucella knocked in three runs and Kalfas went 3-for-3. Kakalos pitched 7 2/3 to earn the win with Sean DiPaola recording the final out for the save.
Babbo earned Friday’s win in relief of starter Aaron Small, who worked into the fifth inning when the Pirates erupted for four runs after falling behind 1-0 on Chris Imhof’s RBI single in the third. Jeff Decina, Trey O’Neill, Sean Seligman (RBI single), Nick Walker (two-run double) and Bowers (RBI single) all had hits during the rally.
Babbo’s RBI single cut Calhoun’s deficit to 4-2 in the fifth, but Mepham regained its three-run cushion in the seventh on Kieran Kehoe’s infield RBI single that brought in Michael Cucinella.
The bottom of the seventh began with a ground out to second and a routine flyout to center. It ended with the shot heard around Merrick.
“There’s no clock in baseball and we needed three outs,” Mepham coach Eric Passman said. “It hurts. These kids left it all on the field.”