By Desirée Keegan
The fireworks came a day late for a group of Suffolk senior softball players.
A thriller ensued in a battle between some of Long Island’s best 65 and older softball players. Down 7-6 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Tim Rocklein smacked a pitch to right field with runners on first and second with no outs, and Ed Carney hit a sacrifice fly to score Dave Argenzio in a walk-off, 8-7 thriller as Suffolk edged Nassau in the first-ever Super Seniors All-Star game July 5.
“It got closer and closer, and why get a lead early when you can get the lead and go home?” head coach Paul Killian said, laughing. “I was losing so much sleep afraid that, A, it was going to rain, and, B, it wouldn’t’ turn out right. I couldn’t be happier with the way it ended.”
Rocklein’s game-tying single served as a bit of redemption. The Islip Terrace resident had made back-to-back errors in a four-run second inning for Nassau.
“It’s really wonderful how the team came through at the end,” said Rocklein, a former student of Killian’s at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip. “It was a team effort. We all won.”
The Suffolk offensive onslaught was contagious. Down 6-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh, base hits by John Carmichael and Carney set up an RBI-single for Louis Re. Later in the inning, Mike Cavanagh hit an in-the-park bases-clearing home run to pull Suffolk within one, 6-5.
“We were just hoping to be competitive,” Cavanagh said. “I flew out the first two times, so it felt great to come through with a hit.”
Rocklein said he saw the hit a bit differently.
“You could feel everyone’s spirits go from 20 to 190,” he said, grinning from ear to ear. “It’s an emotional game. We didn’t give up. We were all there for each other, and in the end, we prevailed.”
Assistant coach Victor Scalone, of Sound Beach, said he was impressed by his team, especially considering the Nassau team had three more full league teams to choose from when assembling its All-Star roster. Suffolk pulled off three double plays, with middle infielder Fred Taal helping turn two of them to John Petraglia at first. Catcher Tony Laino, who led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, helped complete the other, which ended a Nassau scoring threat. Tom Gomez went the distance on the mound, also collecting two hits.
“We’re all older players, and we just wanted to look respectable in this game,” Scalone said. “We’ll be talking about this for a long time.”
The assistant coach pointed to the home run by Cavanagh as having ignited the team. Killian, a Holbrook resident, said he’s in awe of what the sport can do for him and his players.
“I feel like I’m 16 again,” he said. “The fireworks were a day delayed, but they’re here.”