Making his first varsity start, Ryan Heizman needed to show a lot of mental fortitude.
The Commack junior was facing a Patchogue-Medford team that scored 17 runs Monday and constantly placed runners on base Tuesday.
Heizman allowed the leadoff batter to reach base in six of seven innings and let the first two hitters get on in four innings. That is usually a recipe for a short outing, but it didn't deter Heizman at all.
He pitched out of trouble in critical spots to help host Commack (1-2, 1-1) defeat Patchogue-Medford, 6-4, in Suffolk League I baseball.
"You just have to keep your head up," Heizman said. "Just keep pounding the ball in the zone. My team supported me and I knew I had the defense behind me. I just tried to keep the ball low, let them hit it and let the defense do the job."
The defense turned three double plays, none bigger than the one in the sixth inning. With Patchogue-Medford (1-1, 1-1) trailing 5-3, Cash Mahoney (2-for-4) doubled, went to third on a balk and Erich Carroll walked. Heizman cut down a run on a 1-2 fielder's choice, then induced a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning with the potent Matt Vogel (2-for-3) on deck.
"That pumped our team up," Heizman said. "That was definitely a game-changing play. I thought it was going to be an error."
Second baseman Jesse Beardi bobbled the ball, but recovered quickly enough to flip the throw to start the double play.
"That was a very big play," said Commack's Nicholas Perullo, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. "It stopped them from scoring a run and got the momentum back on our side."
Perullo singled to right, scoring Charles Galiano, who reached base three times, in the sixth to extend Commack's lead to 6-3. Heizman allowed three hits and a run in the seventh before getting a fly ball to deep right to end the game.
"He pitched tough," Commack coach Ed Boll said. "Any time he had to get out of an inning, he did a great job. We turned some nice double plays and made plays in the field."