OSPREYS 4, TOMCATS 3 (14 INNINGS)
Some “late-inning lightning” helped the North Fork Ospreys win a suspended game against the Riverhead Tomcats before real lightning led to the postponement of a regularly scheduled game between the two Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League teams on Sunday.
It was only fitting that a strange play should decide the resumption of a suspended game on a strange day. Alex Perez scored from second base following an unsuccessful pickoff attempt in the 14th inning to give the Ospreys the tie-breaking run in a 4-3 triumph over the Tomcats in Riverhead. The first 12 innings of the game were played on June 5 before the contest was suspended because of darkness with the score tied at 2-2.
Perez led off the 14th by dropping a single into left field. After Tomcats pitcher Matt Facendo retired the next two batters, Perez stole second base. Then a pickoff attempt at second base sailed high into the outfield and the ball skipped past the center fielder, allowing Perez to race all the way home.
Ospreys reliever Mike Czenszak gave up a two-out single by Austin Barrois and then a walk to Bryan Palermo before getting Josh Smith to pop up to the shortstop, Perez, for the game-ending out.
After that game, though, players, coaches, umpires and spectators spent more time watching the sky than watching baseball as growling thunder was soon followed by lightning and rain. The regularly scheduled game was halted with one out in the bottom of the first inning and later postponed. Neither team had scored. A makeup date has not been determined.
“It was just good that we didn’t come out here for nothing and we got one win out of it,” said Ospreys center fielder Kyle Adie.
A white cloud could be found among the thunder clouds. The postponement provided needed rest for weary pitching arms.
“It was definitely a more positive day than a negative day,” Ospreys third baseman Darrin Standish said. He explained: “Today we were pretty nervous about our pitching. We wanted to see how far [starting pitcher Mike] Tamburino could go, and we were looking for position players [to pitch] after that.”
The two innings of baseball that were played were eventful.
On the first at-bat of the day, the hot-swinging Ryan Solberg led off the 13th by socking a home run to left field for the Ospreys (12-6).
“I thought for sure we had that game won after Ryan hit that home run, and then they came back and they wanted it, too,” said Standish.
Indeed, the Tomcats (9-7) bounced back in their half of the inning, tying it at 3-3. Josh Smith led off with a bunt single. A wild pitch and a groundout moved him to third base before James Luppens rapped a double to the right-field fence, evening the score again.
Some players had as many as seven at-bats in the 14-inning game. Solberg and Perez were the only Ospreys with two hits each.
Josh Smith was responsible for half of Riverhead’s hits, going 4 for 7 with a double and scoring twice. Luppens added two hits.
It was an odd day for the players. Tomcats left fielder Andrew Gorecki likened it to a short practice. “You get your throwing in, you get your B.P. in, and then that’s it,” he said. “You go home.”
Barrois said completing the suspended game had an odd feel, sort of like starting a game and then finishing it without a middle.
“It’s kind of like jumping into the beginning of a game, but then kind of having the emotions of the end of a game,” he said.
While lightning may unnerve some people, it’s more of an annoyance to players like Gorecki.
“It’s stressful,” he said. “Once they call the lightning strike, we know it’s a half-hour [wait before possibly returning to the field]. The down time hurts you.”