FARMINGDALE — Hall-Dale baseball coach Bob Sinclair has been saying it all season. The Bulldogs have a dangerous lineup. Every player can hit. And when they’re given extra chances, they don’t let them slip away.

In the Class C South semifinals Saturday, Bridgeway became the latest team to make that mistake. And the Bandits also became the latest team to pay the price.

Three errors helped pave the way for a seven-run second inning, which gave top-seeded Hall-Dale all the cushion it needed for a 7-3 victory over No. 5 Bridgeway that sent the Bulldogs to St. Joseph’s College for their first regional final since 2009.

Hall-Dale pitcher Cole Lockhart celebrates after the Bulldogs beat Bridgeway 7-4 in a Class C South semifinal Saturday in Farmingdale.

“It was a good win for all of us,” junior shortstop Alec Byron said. “I know that not many players’ teams have the opportunity to go this far in the playoffs. We’re really fortunate.”

“It was always a goal of ours this season to take that road to St. Joe’s,” said Sinclair, whose team improved to 17-1. “Just to get to this moment … they’re deserving, and they’re excited.”

Byron, Akira Warren and Josh Nadeau — batting in the No. 9 hole — had two-run singles during the second-inning charge, while Cole Lockhart sidestepped late trouble to go the distance on the mound while fanning eight and allowing eight hits.


Evan Bess drilled a two-run home run and a triple for Bridgeway (14-4), while Evan Holzworth and Zach Belanger each singled and scored. Sean Whalen singled and drove in Bridgeway’s other run.

“You can’t give a good team like that extra outs,” Bridgeway coach Robbie Emery said. “We had a bad inning, but these guys have been scrappers all season. We considered ourselves never out of it.”

DELUGE: Bridgeway was the only team all season to beat the Bulldogs. Its chances of repeating the trick were crippled in the early going.

Tim Cookson stood at first with two outs after a fielder’s choice when the roof began to cave in on the Bandits. Logan Dupont dropped a single down the left-field line, moving Cookson to third, and Nadeau followed with a similarly placed ball that, after a late break by the left fielder, fell in for another single and scored both runners to make it 2-0.

Even with two outs, the Bulldogs waiting to hit could sense momentum building.

“It’s a great feeling. We’re all in the dugout, jumping up and down, cheering for each other,” Byron said. “That just gets us excited. There were two outs and we just kept hitting the ball.”


Bridgeway contributed to the troubles, with Austin Stebbins grounding to third but reaching when the throw to first was dropped, and Holzworth issuing a full-count walk to Jacob Brown. Byron followed with a clean single to left, scoring Nadeau and Stebbins, and both he and Brown moved into scoring position on a wild throw to second. Warren was next and the sophomore lined a single to left, bringing in both runners and making it 6-0. Yet another error on a grounder to short by Lockhart scored Warren and made it 7-0.

“That’s what we’ve done all season long,” Sinclair said. “Credit the ballplayers for doing that, because we’ve been tremendously successful in scoring runs once teams give us a mistake. We capitalize on it.”

TURNING OVER THE LINEUP: The inning showcased Hall-Dale’s balanced lineup, with both Dupont and Nadeau, at the eighth and ninth spots, getting hits to spark the rally. The bottom of the lineup has been a strength for the Bulldogs in both playoff wins, with Dupont contributing two hits in the quarterfinals against Winthrop.

“Other teams … might just sense because we’re lower in the lineup that there might be some easier outs, but there are no easy outs in this lineup,” Sinclair said. “Josh Nadeau could lead off for most any team, he’s that good of a ballplayer. … He’s just like that second leadoff guy that gets it started.”

Hall-Dale pinch runner Jett Boyer dives safely back to first before Bridgeway first baseman Tyler Duley gets the throw during a Class C South semifinal game Saturday in Farmingdale.

NOT DONE YET: Bess gave Bridgeway a jolt in the third, smashing a two-run home run over the wall in dead center field. The score was only 7-2, but the Bandits felt they had a spark.

“Baseball comes down to one play that can turn the tide. I think, with this group, we’ve been notorious for doing that,” Bess said. “Our group battles. I thought that was going to put us over the hump there.”


“No doubt about it. We’re always in it,” Emery said. “They just don’t stop, they don’t get down on themselves.”

Bridgeway inched closer in the fourth when Holzworth scored on a fielder’s choice, but while the Bandits continued to pressure Lockhart and the Bulldogs, the later rallies fizzled out. Bess tripled but was stranded in the fifth, and Bridgeway got runners on second and third in the sixth before a popup ended the threat.

Bridgeway had a final chance in the seventh with the bases loaded with one out, but Lockhart got Atwood to fly to Nadeau in left, who then caught Willette leaning too far off second for the last out of the game.

“At the end there when Josh makes that play, they’re yelling ‘That’s down,’ I know Josh is coming up with that play. Once I saw that kid (leaning), I was like ‘He’s got him,’ ” Lockhart said. “I know my defense has me backed up. I trust them.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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