OSPREYS 2, TOMCATS 2 (12 INNINGS, SUSPENDED)
There are not supposed to be ties in baseball. Well, the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League game between the North Fork Ospreys and the Riverhead Tomcats is tied — for the time being.
The two stubborn teams, both refusing to lose, played 12 innings in Riverhead on Tuesday before the umpire suspended the game because of fading light with the score knotted at 2-2. The game will be resumed at a future date.
Not even a full two games into their season, the Ospreys (0-1) can feel good about what they have seen from their pitching, which has allowed only four runs in 21 innings.
The Ospreys received splendid pitching from starter Mike Tamburino and reliever Rich Vrana on Tuesday. They didn’t allow an earned run. Tamburino worked the first five innings, giving up two hits, with six strikeouts and three walks. Vrana picked up the next seven innings, during which he limited the Tomcats (2-0) to three hits. He had eight strikeouts and two walks.
“I think it’s a pitcher’s league, and you’re going to see well-played, well-pitched games,” North Fork’s new coach, Bill Ianniciello, said. “I just think you have quality arms here. On our side, the two kids both threw real strong games. They each could have won a game.”
The pitching on the Tomcats’ side wasn’t too shabby, either. Riverhead used five pitchers — Zach Hopf, Shaun Hansen, Colin McEnery, Steve Kimmelman and Matt Facendo — who held North Fork to six hits.
Josh Smith (3 for 5) was involved in both runs the Tomcats scored in the fifth inning to even things at 2-2. Riverhead’s first batter that inning, Bryan Palermo, reached base on a throwing error. He then scored from first after Smith’s single skipped by the center fielder. Smith then scored the tying run when North Fork shortstop Alex Perez did well to pounce to his left and stop an Austin Miller ground ball. Perez had no play at home, so he threw Miller out at first.
The Ospreys put up a two-run inning of their own in the second. Ryan Solberg led off by legging out a double to shallow right field. Daniel Kerr then smacked a single to bring Solberg home. Later, with the bases loaded, Darrin Standish got a run batted in the hard way. He was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, plating Kerr. Standish was hit by a pitch again later in the game.
The contest between the two neighboring teams had an added local flavor with some players who have played their high school ball in the area. Standish, who played third base for the Ospreys, is a Southold High School product and a junior at Southern New Hampshire. The Tomcats have three such players. Both Kimmelman (C.W. Post) and Palermo (St. Lawrence University), a second baseman, played on the same field that they did when they played for Riverhead High School. Hansen (Suffolk County Community College) played for Southold and Greenport when he was in high school.
Without a doubt, it was a pitcher’s day. It was also something of a test for Vrana, who entered the game in the sixth inning. The last time he pitched competitively was for Marist in a game against Brown a little over a month ago. He looked sharp, though, retiring the first five batters he faced and seven of the last eight.
“You come in a tight game, you got to hold them down,” Vrana said. “You got to basically do whatever you can to keep your team in it. You just go out there and just throw.”
Before the bottom of the 12th inning started at 7:54 p.m., the umpire stated that it would be the last inning of the evening. That was a one, two, three inning, thanks to a nice leaping catch by Perez of a liner hit by Andrew Gorecki for the penultimate out in the 12th.
It’s too early to draw conclusions, but Ianniciello likes what he has seen from the Ospreys, who lost to the Westhampton Aviators in last year’s Hampton Division finals.
“Every inning I’m learning something about somebody,” said Ianniciello, an assistant coach at Queens College who has worked for the New York Mets for 31 years, including 17 as vice president of tickets sales and services. “I think it’s a good group, and we’re going to win a lot of games. Everybody here can play. It’s just a matter of finding their strengths and trying to use their strengths the best we can.”
Vrana may not have expected to pitch as much as he did, but once the game entered extra innings, he said he was determined to remain on the mound. He said, “I wasn’t going to let [Ianniciello] take me out until the game was over.”
He still has some waiting to do.