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Darrell Pitched and Hit Bonac Into Playoffs

Fri, 05/12/2023 - 14:40
Will Darrell pitched all seven innings and also had the game's decisive hit.
Jack Graves

The high school baseball game played with Eastport-South Manor here on Wednesday was not quite a must-win for East Hampton High's team, but close to it, for a loss that day would have set up a must-win situation in the regular-season finale held Friday at the Sharks' field. 

Happily, the Bonackers, with Will Darrell, their strong left-hander, pitching the whole way, prevailed 3-1, evening the series at 1-1, and, most important, improving East Hampton's record to 9-8, thus earning Vinny Alversa and Henry Meyer's crew a berth in the county playoffs, which are to begin on Tuesday.

Darrell also had the game's decisive hit, but more on that later. The big lefty, who paced himself well throughout the afternoon, struck out the side to get things going. East Hampton took a 1-0 lead in the bottom half. After the first batter, Hudson Meyer, walked, Tyler Hansen grounded to short, but the throw to second base was dropped. A subsequent grounder to short by Nico Horan-Puglia resulted in a force at second, but there were runners at the corners with one out when Carter Dickinson, Bonac's cleanup hitter, came to bat.

Dickinson promptly lined the first pitch he saw into the outfield, scoring Meyer and advancing Hansen to second. Darrell was then hit by a pitch, loading the bases, but the visitors got out of the inning by way of a nifty double play that began with a flyout to center field by Egan Barzilay and ended with Horan-Puglia being thrown out at the plate.

It looked as if the visitors' pitcher, also a lefty, who, in contrast to Darrell, did not throw hard, was hittable, but he mastered East Hampton's hitters through the second, third, and fourth innings, striking out five along the way, catching two looking at called third strikes.

Darrell made sure the 1-0 lead continued to hold up in the visitors' fifth, setting the side down in order, on a flyout to center field, a lineout to Carter Dickinson at first, and a strikeout of his opposite number.

Meyer grounded out to first in leading off the bottom half of the inning, but Hansen and Horan-Puglia followed with singles. The runners held when Carter Dickinson flied out to center, but, with two outs, Darrell, after going down 1-2 in the count and fouling off the next two pitches, drove the next offering deep to the fence in left-center, enabling Hansen and Horan-Puglia to score -- a two-run double that proved to be the game-winning hit.

Eastport-South Manor wasn't done, however. The first two batters to face Darrell in the top of the sixth, the leadoff and number-two hitters, singled. The number-three grounded to Jack Dickinson, who stepped on third for the force there, but then threw wide of his brother at first, an error that allowed the runners to advance to second and third with one out and the cleanup hitter due up.  

With the count full, the Sharks' number-four man grounded out second-to-first, the visitors' first run of the afternoon scoring and a runner advancing to third on the play. After falling behind 3-0, Darrell, however, came back to retire the side on a Dickinson-to-Dickinson groundout.

East Hampton could not pad its lead in its sixth, a two-out single by Anderson going for naught when Meyer flew out to right field to end the inning and leaving East Hampton three outs shy of a playoff berth. 

Darrell walked the first hitter to face him in the top of the seventh, the second grounded out third-to-first, but a subsequent wild pitch followed by another walk put runners at the corners for the visitors with one out, and prompted a visit to the mound by the elder Meyer, who, after talking things over, left the big lefty in. 

And a good thing too, for Darrell, once the runner on first had stolen second, put the Sharks away with two resounding strikeouts -- a called strike three ending the game and delighting the large, animated hometown crowd.

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