BLUE WAVES 27, PATRIOTS 6
Scott Hackal sounded upbeat, and he had good reason to be. Not only because his Riverhead High School boys bowling team had just posted a feel-good win, but because this has turned into something of a feel-good season for the Blue Waves.
That may be a bit surprising, considering Riverhead lost all five of its starters from last season, each one of them taking a 200-plus average with them. Most of the current Blue Waves were on that team, but didn’t get much playing time.
Despite all of that, Riverhead is competing for a playoff spot.
“It’s a pleasant surprise,” Hackal said. “We’re learning, we’re getting better; that’s the key. This is not an easy game. It’s a frustrating game, but they’re working and getting better.”
The fruits of that labor are starting to be seen. On Monday, for example, three Riverheaders posted series scores over 550 in a 27-6 defeat of Ward Melville in a Suffolk County League III boys bowling match at Wildwood Lanes in Riverhead. A 229 in the opening game paved the way for a 580 series by Riverhead junior Louis Ambrosio. Chris Mazzucca, a senior, opened a 577 series with a 210 in the first game for Riverhead, which also received a 558 series from junior Austin Douglas.
“We’re moving right up and we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing every game,” said Ambrosio, who threw 16 strikes and made 10 spares. “We’re getting better and better.”
Riverhead played two seventh-graders, Forrest Vail and Jon Visek. Vail rolled a 215 in the third game and Visek had a 202 and a 165.
“I play eight people, and whoever I put in there seems to get the job done,” said Hackal.
Tom Slawski recorded a 535 series with a 200 high game for Ward Melville. Teammate Tom Bogia posted a 204 in the last game.
Riverhead swept the three games, 936-814, 910-899, 926-876.
Riverhead (129 1/2 points) and Ward Melville (75) started the day as the bottom two teams in the seven-team league.
What Hackal might have liked best about Monday’s match were the 69 spares his team converted, 15 more than Ward Melville.
“That’s huge,” Hackal said of the spares. “That’s better than anything else. I think we missed maybe two one-pin spares. Early in the year we were missing eight to 10 a game.”
Douglas, who like Ambrosio is a lefty, seems to like his new bowling ball. He capped his day with a 213 in the third game. Douglas said he has seen definite improvement in the team, which he said turned in its best performance of the season.
“From the beginning of the year now until now, it’s a completely different team,” he said. “… We had very little experience coming in to this year, and I feel like we skyrocketed.”
Riverhead hopes to extend its season in the playoffs, which may be possible. Of the team’s four remaining matches are two critical ones on the road — tomorrow versus Connetquot and Jan. 23 against Patchogue-Medford.
“We’re close to a playoff spot,” Hackal said. “We have to win a couple of matches on the road. Positive points in those away matches, and we’ll be fine.”