WEST NYACK – Two innings before he came to bat Tuesday, Tommy Doherty began to prepare himself for the moment by timing pitches from the home dugout. For Doherty and the rest of the Vikings, this was Senior Day and this was Clarkstown North, their rival, so the occasion required special attention. Doherty, however, also had reason to compartmentalize. He understood the Clarkstown South coaches and players planned to honor his mom, Tina, in the seniors’ postgame ceremony. She passed away from cancer on Feb. 8, but the former team manager found himself determined to focus on one moment at a time.
And what a moment it was.
In the fifth inning of South’s 15-4 victory, Doherty lined a high fastball into the right-center field gap, stroking the 3-2 pitch for an unforgettable two-run double. The hit — his first on varsity — sent Doherty’s delirious teammates into a cheering frenzy.
“There was a little bit of apprehension with everything going on, but the whole time I was focused in,” he said. “I thought I was ready.”
As he legged out the double, Doherty whirled into the second base bag belly-first. When he came to his feet, he looked left and saw Charlie D’Angelo, his freshman coach. He looked to third and saw teammate Jeff DeNicola, one of his best friends. And how could he not notice the reaction in the dugout, most of it originating from the throats and tongues of starters who had departed a lopsided game.
Doherty had their full attention.
“That made it,” he said. “That made everything.”
Later, Doherty and his fellow seniors were saluted, with coach Mike Amendola introducing each player and his parents.
When Amendola introduced Doherty — known to teammates as “Doc” — he was joined by his father, Neal. Amendola highlighted Doherty’s rise to the varsity roster. He also commemorated the passing of Doherty’s mother, a former school secretary in Clarkstown who died at just 56.
Doherty and his father shared a tearful embrace before all of the Vikings gathered on the mound to release pink balloons in Tina’s honor. The crowd offered a solemn cheer as the balloons disappeared into the twilight.
“It was picture perfect,” senior shortstop Peter Iannarilli said.
Senior Nick Tagaris — who, like Iannarilli, had three hits — pitched five innings and earned the victory, but Doherty’s double and the timing of it were what kept him grinning.
“I couldn’t be any happier than I am right now,” Tagaris said. “That’s a moment he’s going to remember for the rest of his life and this team — when we come back together, if we ever do, — we’re going to say, ‘Remember when Doc got that hit against North?’ It’s always going to be something we can smile about.”
Doherty had been the one who put himself in position to have such a moment. Amendola said Doherty worked through the fall season and improved to the point where he could be more than a team manager come spring.
“It was known that he wouldn’t be given a roster spot,” Amendola said. “He could’ve been the team manager again, but he earned his spot on this team.”
The payoff finally arrived. When it did, Doherty was ready.
“It meant a lot,” Doherty said. “I worked really hard for it. I’ve been thinking about that the whole season, that when I get my opportunity to look for that pitch out over the plate and drive it the other way. I got that pitch and it was just the greatest feeling in the world.”