The penalty assessed for losing a ball in the lights Friday night at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic? Getting hit by a pitch the next time at bat.
Nowhere in the baseball rule book does it mention this as being an infraction, nor is there an official punishment for such an error. It just happened to work out that way for both right fielders, Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Tom Tenaglia and Southold’s Luke Hokanson, in the First Settlers’ 7-5 win over the Monarchs.
Tenaglia was the first one to lose a fly ball in the lights. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning, Southold’s John Dunne launched a 1-0 fastball from Al Yabakowski to deep right field. Tenaglia settled under it, but as he looked up, the ball was nowhere to be seen. That is, until it glanced off his glove, hit him in the face and rolled away. By the time center fielder Pat Stepnoski retrieved it, Dunne had a three-run triple to put the First Settlers up, 4-0.
“He was definitely right under it,” Monarchs Coach Ed Meier said of Tenaglia. “He has the bump to prove it. It was a lot of contact with him and the baseball today.”
Yabakowski had a hard time finding the plate in the first inning as he issued two walks and gave up three hits for the Monarchs (5-3 overall, 3-3 in Suffolk County League VIII). He gave up two more runs in the first inning as the First Settlers sent 10 batters to the plate and took a 6-1 lead.
Yabakowski’s counterpart on the mound, Shaun Hansen, had his own troubles through the first two innings for Southold (4-5, 4-3).
“It was definitely discouraging,” Hansen said. “Definitely some ugly baseball.”
Said Meier: “That was kind of like a circus there. Then we started to play some real baseball and it was fun.”
Hansen started the second inning by striking out two of the first three batters he faced. Just as quickly as it seemed he had regained his control after walking three batters in the first inning, Hansen lost it again. He walked a batter, gave up a single and then beaned Tenaglia. The first two pitches of the at-bat were high and inside.
With the bases loaded, Monarchs third baseman Chris Sachalk hit a fly ball to right field. Hokanson started to his left, then reversed field, but never found the ball. It rolled to the fence for a three-run double.
“I’m not going to give him the benefit of the doubt on that,” said Southold Coach Mike Carver, whose team suffered a 6-3 loss to the Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers on Tuesday. “He should have caught that ball.”
Hansen ended the inning with another strikeout, but Southold’s lead had been cut to 6-5. That was one of 13 strikeouts Hansen notched on the evening. He also walked seven batters, five of them in the first two innings, during which he threw 71 of his 134 pitches. Nearly half of them were balls.
“You could say it’s a little bit sore,” Hansen said of his right arm. “I’m definitely going to feel it tomorrow morning.”
After his adventures in right field, Hokanson led off the second inning for Southold. On a 2-2 count, a curveball from Yabakowski hit Hokanson under the left eye. He crumpled to the ground. He managed to leave the field under his own power. After a brief pit stop in the dugout for some ice, Hokanson left the park with an ice pack over his mouth to go to the hospital as a precautionary measure.
“Hopefully there won’t be any fractures,” Carver said.
Once the game resumed, Yabakowski settled down, going six innings and allowing just one more run. Unfortunately for him, Hansen’s wildness had also disappeared. The Monarchs managed only one hit off him in the last five innings. Hansen struck out the side in the fourth and sixth innings.
“He pitched well,” Carver said. “He got stronger as he went on.”
The Monarchs threatened briefly in the fifth inning, getting men on first and second base with one out. But Hansen got Ian Traynor to ground into an inning-ending double play. Another double play in the seventh ended any hopes the Monarchs had of a comeback.
“That was a good win,” Carver said. “That’s going to be a momentum-builder right there.”