He lost his entire starting pitching rotation from last season, but the Riverhead High School baseball coach, Rob Maccone, isn’t fretting. He didn’t name names, but Maccone figures he has some intriguing candidates to pick up the slack this season.
“We had three kids who averaged five or six innings a start,” he said. “That’s tough to overcome. We have four or five guys with solid arms. All they lack is innings.”
Maccone began to discover what those arms can do on Monday, the first day of baseball practice for New York State teams.
The candidates include four seniors and one sophomore.
“We have the depth,” he said. “We need to get innings out of them.
“I think our pitching staff is going to be all right.”
Riverhead has three key returnees — senior first baseman Jordan Demchuk, second baseman Jon Tucci and catcher James Porco. “I’ll lean on them,” Maccone said.
Porco struggled at bat last season. “It was a product of a lot of bad luck,” Maccone said.
Maccone expected improvement over last season’s finish. The Blue Waves were 9-11 overall and 7-11 in Suffolk County League IV.
“The thing that killed us was that we lost five games by two runs or less, and twice in extra innings,” he said. “We were right there.”
The Blue Waves also have to shore up their defense. Maccone said they allowed 20 unearned runs last year.
“We kicked the ball around too much,” he said.
Twenty-three players are trying out for the team. Maccone said he would keep 14 to 18 players.
“That kind of varies,” he said. “We try not to take kids we’re not going to use.”
The rain that pelted the area ended in time for the Blue Waves to hit the field on Monday, although the wind made it difficult on the outfielders during tryouts, Maccone said.
“I try to go outside as much as possible,” he said. “Inside practices are tight quarters and there’s not much you can do. It’s tough to get an evaluation on them.”
The first few days of practice necessarily were not about preparing the team, but rather assessing what new talent there was on the field.
“It was less coaching and more evaluating,” Maccone said. “It’s not the fun part of tryouts. I think we’re going to be all right.”
The Blue Waves have less than three weeks to prepare for their opener, away against non-league foe Kings Park on March 29. Their first league game is at West Babylon on April 5.