GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO
Riverhead shortstop Jeff Welsh and his teammates prevailed in Southampton on Saturday despite striking out 17 times.
SOUTHAMPTON — Three strikes and you’re out. That’s how it is in baseball. And if a team strikes out often enough, it usually loses. That’s how it is baseball.
Seventeen strikeouts were not enough, though, to put the Riverhead Tomcats down on Saturday. That’s right, 17 strikeouts.
Southampton Breakers pitchers Jared Wagner and Garrett Hughes combined for 17 strikeouts and a four-hitter, yet it was still not enough to prevent the Tomcats from winning the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League game, 3-2.
The Tomcats got a break in the top of the eighth inning when a leadoff walk to Tyler Brant led to the go-ahead run. Brant stole second base, reached third on an error, and scored on a groundout by Chase Fowler, snapping a 2-2 tie.
Southampton’s starting pitcher, Wagner, started off well enough, retiring the first five batters, but then he got into trouble by issuing a two-out walk to Eric Romano in the second inning. Kevin Needham followed with a sharp single to center field. They both scored when Matt Fleishman ripped a double to deep left field for a 2-0 lead.
Southampton (5-6) pulled even on an almost identical two-out, two-run double struck by Tommy Corbin to the same place on the field in the third. That hit was preceded by a Mike Mandarino single and a walk by Nick Ferraresi.
Both starters left the game with the decision up in the air and the score tied at 2-2. Wagner, who threw 63 of his 89 pitches in the first three innings, was relieved after five innings. He struck out nine, giving up two hits and four walks. Thor Miller, making his first start for the Tomcats, lasted six innings, giving up seven hits. He walked one and struck out one as part of his 82-pitch effort.
Thomas Jones picked up the win with three scoreless innings of two-hit relief. Southampton pinch hitter Robb Scott got the second of those hits, an infield single with one out in the ninth, but Jones retired the last two batters to secure the victory, his second in three decisions.
Hughes’ record fell to 0-2 despite his eight strikeouts. He allowed two hits over four scoreless innings.
Southampton had squandered a chance to put up runs in the second when it loaded the bases on three hits — two of which were infield singles by Dylan Swift and Andrew Shimkus. But, with two out, Miller got Joe Pedevillano to pop up to second baseman Isaac Rodriguez, averting any damage.
FLEISHMAN, FOWLER NOTCH THREE HITS EACH Matt Fleishman and Chase Fowler had three hits apiece as the Tomcats (6-8) topped the visiting Sag Harbor Whalers, 6-2, on Tuesday. Fleishman drove in two runs and scored one. Chris Taylor (2-0) picked up the win. He allowed five hits and one earned over five innings, striking out seven without conceding a walk. Sag Harbor dropped to 4-8.
HR NO. 5 FOR WILLIAMS Alex Williams slugged his league-leading fifth home run of the season for the Westhampton Aviators in their 7-1 win over the Tomcats at Hite Field on Sunday. Westhampton registered a season-high 13 hits.
MEET THE TOMCATS A meet the Tomcats night will be held Friday at Iron Pier Beach in Northville from 6 to 8:30 p.m.