BLUE WAVES 4, COUGARS 0
Riverhead coach Rob Maccone stepped out of the dugout for a brief moment during the fifth inning Tuesday against Centereach. When he walked back toward the bench, the Riverhead fielders were already jogging back into the dugout.
“That was the inning?” Maccone said incredulously.
When senior Matt Crohan is on the mound, there’s always the chance an inning can end very quickly. In the fifth he struck out the side on 12 pitches, part of another dominant performance in front of a handful of scouts as the Blue Waves blanked the Cougars 4-0 in the first of a three-game League IV series.
In his second start of the season, Crohan fired off his second no-hitter while fanning 18 batters at Riverhead High School.
Including a no-hitter against East Islip March 27, Crohan has 33 strikeouts in 14 innings without giving up a hit.
“I don’t even know if this has been done before at Riverhead,” Maccone said. “If it has, it hasn’t been in a really long time.”
Crohan overpowered Centereach (2-2) with his fastball on a chilly afternoon, mixing in an occasional curveball or change-up. But for the most part, all he needed to do was pound the strike zone and the Cougars were helpless to even make contact.
“You just got to go out there and play every team like they’re the Yankees,” Crohan said afterward as he held a rake by the third base bag.
Riverhead’s 6-foot-3 lefty struggled with his control at times and he finished with five walks on 123 pitches. The Cougars got two runners on in the fourth via walks before Cohan came back to get two strikeouts.
In the seventh he walked the first two batters and the Cougars loaded the bases with one out to bring the tying run to the plate. Once again, Crohan had an answer by striking out Joe Soutar and Mike Mongiori to end the game.
“I just had to finish more on everything,” Crohan said. “I wasn’t getting out enough. When it came down to runners on base all I have to worry about is my mechanics because I know Cody [Smith] is back there. He’s going to block everything for me.”
When the Cougars were at the plate, Riverhead’s fielders were mostly spectators. There was one sacrifice bunt to field in the fourth. And in the sixth third baseman John Wendt snagged a nasty hop on a grounder to throw out leadoff hitter Nick Dixon. Second baseman Kenny Simco scooped up a grounder to throw out the next runner for the only other out recorded in the field.
While the two no-hitters were an electrifying start to the season, Crohan said the only thing that mattered was that the game got the victory.
“If we had won 2-0, 2-1 or even a 7-6 game I would have been happy with that,” he said. “It doesn’t matter about the stats as long as you’re getting the Ws.”
The Blue Waves (2-2) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning by playing some small ball, which isn’t necessarily their style, Maccone said.
“I just wanted to get on the board early,” Maccone said.
After two walks to lead off the inning, Brian Brenton laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up. Bobby Dilworth followed with a perfectly executed squeeze bunt to bring home Crohan with the game’s first run.
The Blue Waves added another run in the third after a double play call was overturned. With the bases loaded Crohan grounded to short for what appeared to be a double play. But the relay throw to first took the first baseman off the bag. The home plate umpire overruled the call after the umpire in the field asked for help.
The Blue Waves added two in the sixth, capped by an RBI single to right from shortstop Jesse Patriss.
Riverhead returns to the field Wednesday at Centereach for the second game of the series. They’ll hope the momentum from Tuesday’s dominant performance from Crohan can carry over.
“If you get a win early it puts the other team into a hole,” Crohan said. “They have to come back to try to win the series and they’re on their toes.”