Mouzakes' squeeze bunt leads Hills West
After a failed sacrifice bunt attempt that produced the first out, Half Hollow Hills West’s Dylan Mouzakes batted with runners at first and second and the score tied in the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday.
A successful double steal put two runners in scoring position. As well as Mouzakes has been swinging — with the winning hit in each of the two previous games and five RBIs — you let him swing away, right?
Wrong — but it’s difficult to question anything that Hills West does these days. Mouzakes put down a suicide-squeeze bunt and pinch runner T.J. Montalbano beat the tag at the plate to score the winning run for No. 2 Hills West in a 2-1 win over No. 3 Eastport-South Manor in a Suffolk Class AA winner’s bracket baseball semifinal.
Hills West (20-3), which has won 18 straight games, will play at No. 1 Connetquot at 4 p.m. Friday in a winner’s bracket final. ESM (20-3) will host No. 11 Bay Shore at 4 p.m. Friday in an elimination game.
“I just put the ball in play,” Mouzakes said. “I thought it was a good call. We were debating whether to call it off and we stuck with it. I think I’m a good bunter.”
Tom DiGiorgi led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to center and Montalbano pinch ran. Sean Noriega (3-for-3) followed with a single to right. After a strikeout on a bunt attempt and the double steal, Mouzakes came through.
“We haven’t done it much,” Hills West coach Tom Migliozzi said of the suicide squeeze. “It really matters about the personnel and we had the right personnel. That’s why we did it.”
Said Noriega: “We’re seventh-inning warriors. We never give up and always fight back. We get it done.”
Mouzakes got it done on the mound also. He allowed nine hits, but stranded six runners in scoring position. Logan Frati pitched 6 1/3 innings and allowed five hits, walked one and struck out three for ESM.
“They know they can lose," Migliozzi said. “They’re figuring out ways to win because they don’t want to lose.”