TOWN OF UNION (WBNG) – “At some point someone is going to punch you in the face with a couple of runs and you can’t sit there and mope about it, you have to come back and fight and those guys have been fighting all year long,” said Maine-Endwell coach Matt Raleigh.
Clutch. In the sports world it can be defined many different ways but at the end of the day, you either have it or you don’t.
“A lot of work goes into being clutch,” said Raleigh.
“To know how to deal with pressure,” said Maine-Endwell senior Josh Chandler.
“To go up there with the mentality that you are going to do something big, no matter what the situation is no matter who is out there, who you are going up against. You just have the mindset that you are better than them,” said Maine-Endwell senior Joe Mancini.
On Thursday, Maine-Endwell went into the bottom of the seventh trailing the number one team in the state by a run and after a leadoff double, Joe Mancini came to the dish
“Definitely a little bit of pressure, I feel like if you are going up there in that situation you have to be mentally and physically prepared. You have to prepare yourself in practice, you have to have the mindset that you are going to go up there and do your job,” said Mancini.
That is exactly what he did. Mancini hit a clutch triple into the gap to bring home the tying run and set himself up on third. He would eventually score the game winning run on a wild pitch during the next at bat.
“It was a good feeling to get him in, I knew the game was tied and we were going to have a little bit more baseball or end it right there and I knew my team was going to get it done,” said Mancini.
“Joe with two strikes, a big hit and once he got to third you had to feel pretty good because we had two chances to get that run in,” said Raleigh.
One game down, one to go. On Saturday the Spartans took an early lead against Roosevelt but found themselves going into the bottom of the seventh tied at three. Another chance to be clutch.
“I just wanted to hit the ball hard, you know because if I hit it into the outfield and they catch it, Raleigh is at third tagging but it went over the fence instead so,” said Chandler.
Talk about clutch. Josh Chandler crushed his first home run of the season, a walk-off shot to left to once again send the Spartans into hysterics.
“I knew it was gone. That was my first of the year but I do it all the time in practice so I know the feeling and it was great,’ said Chandler.
“He is capable of changing the game at any given time, he is that kind of player, he’s always been that kind of player,” said Raleigh.
“We knew right off the sight of that bat, you could hear it, you could look at it, you knew that ball was going far,” said Mancini.
Two games, two walk-off wins. Clutch moments that define a season and have propelled Maine-Endwell to the state semifinals.
“I’m a firm believer that we want to win more than anyone in the state, we come together when we need to at the right times and it’s shown,” said Chandler.
“I just know that we have the mindset, every single one of us, all twenty of us on the team we have the mindset that we are going to come back, we know that no matter what the situation is we have a chance,” said Mancini.
Maine-Endwell will play in the final four Friday at 2 p.m. at Union-Endicott.