WINTHROP — Sam Figueroa’s foul fly ball didn’t take long to travel a few feet beyond the first base dugout, but it was more than enough time for Carson Camick to decide he could trust his instincts.
Camick tagged up on the short fly and beat the throw home with a head-first dive at the plate to give No. 8 Winthrop a dramatic comeback 5-4 win over No. 9 Sacopee Valley in a Class C South baseball prelim on Tuesday.
Winthrop (10-7), which rallied from down 4-0 in the sixth, will face No. 1 Hall-Dale in the quarterfinals at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday in Farmingdale. Sacopee Valley ends its season at 9-8.
“We’re a family. We battle hard every game,” Camick said. “We just stick together. The game’s never over when you’re playing us.”
The Ramblers manufactured the winning run without a hit against reliever Peter Cates. Camick led off with a walk, reached second on an errant throw to second on a potential double-play grounder, then advanced to third on a fly to right.
Figueroa followed with a pop up that drifted about 20 feet beyond Sacopee’s dugout and was caught by the Hawks’ first baseman, who wheeled and fired a good throw home but a little too late to nab Camick.
“Sam’s been hitting the ball a ton and right on the dot every time, so with him at the plate, we felt pretty confident,” Winthrop coach Marc Fortin said.
“The infield was playing in, so I probably wasn’t going to go if it was hit hard on the infield. Maybe I’d go on the throw over if I got a good enough jump on it. But we were fortunate enough to get it in the air over there in foul territory,” Camick said. “I was on the base, ready for anything. When he caught it, I went with my instinct.”
Sacopee starting pitcher Dylan Miner stymied the Ramblers through the first five innings, mixing a biting curve with a pinpoint fastball to limit them to one hit while striking out nine.
“I said, ‘Boys, just stay positive,'” Fortin said. “The last time we played these guys (in the 2013 quarterfinals), we had them down 7-0 in the seventh. They came back and tied it up and we had to win it (8-7) in the eighth. Anything can happen.”
Trailing 4-0, the Ramblers finally got a rally going with four singles in a row to start the sixth. None of the singles — by Greg Fay, Ryan Baird, Camick and Cam Gaghan — were very hard hit, but all found a hole.
“The big thing was just being patient and just staying at it,” Fortin said. “You see these pitchers two or three times (in a game), and hopefully you catch up towards the end.”
“We were sitting on fastballs, looking to make something happen,” Camick said. “We tried to get up in the count so he couldn’t throw as many curve balls. Fortunately for us, we were able to get on top of his fastball.”
Camick’s bloop single scored Fay to make it 4-1. Gaghan’s two-run bouncer up the middle made it a one-run game. The Hawks maintained the lead by cutting down the tying run at the plate on a passed ball to the backstop.
Fay, working in relief of Baird, escaped a jam in the top of the seventh to keep the deficit at one run. He then drove in the tying run in the bottom of the frame with a single to right that scored Kane Gould.
Sacopee jumped out to the lead with all four of its runs in the second inning. Austin Eastman made Baird pay for a pair of walks with a two-run double into the gap in right-center.
Following an error, Cole Eastman’s sacrifice fly and Miner’s infield single, the Hawks had a 4-0 cushion. But they missed a chance to add to their lead when a base runner failed to tag third while rounding the base on a Randy Gonyea double, stopped midway between third and home and thrown out trying to retreat to third.
“We made too many mental mistakes and didn’t play clean enough to win,” Sacopee coach Kevin Miner said. “We had that one inning but we couldn’t string anything together otherwise.”