When the ball left the bat of Nick Nunziato, the only question was how far it would travel.
The ball was crushed and with no fence at Commack, it was a matter of whether it would be a triple or a home run in the top of the ninth inning.
Nunziato dived headfirst into home plate before the throw got to the catcher for his sixth homer of the season and the winning run for visiting Ward Melville in a 4-3 win over Commack in a Suffolk League I baseball game Monday.
"It felt great off the bat," Nunziato said. "It was a 3-and-2 pitch and he didn't want to walk me. I was looking for a fastball, but you have to react to anything. I thought it was going to be a triple or be a bang-bang play at the plate."
Nunziato went 2-for-5 with a stolen base and made two spectacular plays at shortstop, including one to save a run.
Coming through in the clutch is nothing new for Nunziato. In a 4-3 win April 26, he hit a two-out, two-run triple in the top of the seventh to rally Ward Melville from a 3-2 deficit. The next game, he hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth with the Patriots trailing 2-1. Nunziato also hit for the cycle and has had a stretch of nine consecutive hits.
"I knew it was going to be a home run as soon as [Nunziato] hit it," said Anthony Padrazo, who went 2-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and a stolen base. "It's a great win."
The win prevented Commack from clinching the league title and kept Ward Melville's hopes alive. Ward Melville (13-5, 11-5) trails Commack (12-5, 12-4) with two games left in the series to conclude the regular season.
Freshman Joseph Flynn pitched seven innings and allowed nine hits, two walks (one intentional), two earned runs and struck out three for Ward Melville. Gregory Coman pitched the final two innings to get the win. After a walk and single with one out in the bottom of the ninth, he struck out the final two batters.
"We played a great game against a county finalist team," Ward Melville coach Lou Petrucci said. "This was a playoff atmosphere."
And once again, Nunziato delivered in the clutch.