WILDCATS 20, WARRIORS 0
In the Shoreham-Wading River bullpen, there’s an expectation for every pitcher to be ready whenever his number may be called. On Tuesday, with the Wildcats facing the weakest team in the league, coach Sal Mignano planned to limit starter Keven Pimentel to leave open the possibility of bringing him back on short rest Thursday.
Mignano didn’t let on to his relief pitchers his plan. So when Brian Klemfuss got the call to start the third inning against Amityville, the senior had to be ready early.
He was more than up to the task, firing five no-hit innings to combine with Pimentel for a no-hitter in a 20-0 walloping of the Warriors at Kevin Williams Memorial Field in Shoreham.
Klemfuss earned his first varsity victory while striking out six.
Mignano said it was only the second combined no-hitter in program history and the 10th overall.
They came awfully close to a perfect game.
Only one Amityville hitter reached base. That came in the fourth on a grounder to first that was knocked down, but not fielded cleanly. The Wildcats still nearly got the out as second baseman Chris Moran picked up the ball and fired to Klemfuss covering from the mound. But they were a split second too late.
“In a high school game, you’re aware of [a perfect game] after three [innings],” Mignano said. “You’re seeing how your pitcher is pretty much in control. So you think of all that.”
After giving up 30 runs in their previous three games, the Wildcats got a welcome reprieve with the light-hitting Warriors, who didn’t have much pop in the lineup to ever threaten Shoreham’s pitchers.
Pimentel cruised through the first two innings with five strikeouts. He threw 24 pitches before taking a seat and resting for Thursday.
Mignano said Pimentel hadn’t thrown in over a week. He was concerned about resting him too long if he held him out until Thursday.
“I said let’s start him and see how it looks right away,” Mignano said. “Obviously he had two easy innings and I felt like we would be able to put some runs up.”
For Pimentel, the game became more of a bullpen session in between starts.
That allowed Klemfuss to shine the rest of the way, and the Wildcats’ bats gave him more than enough runs in support. The Wildcats already had a 6-0 lead by the time Klemfuss came into the game in the third.
They blew it open even further with a six-run third inning to double the lead.
The Wildcats improved to 5-3 in League VII to break a two-game skid. The Wildcats had given up 30 runs in their previous three games before Tuesday.
“We’ve been playing inconsistent defense,” Mignano said. “The combination of shoddy defense, not throwing strikes, giving up key hits has caused us to give up a lot of runs.”
After losing a large core of last year’s county championship team, some growing pains to start this year were expected. Mignano said they’re still trying to solidify the third spot in the rotation.
The biggest bat in the lineup has also been absent of late. Junior Nick Bottari injured cartilage in his left hand sliding into second base earlier this season.
“It bothered him, but not terribly,” Mignano said. “Then he did it again last week.”
Bottari, who’s committed to the University of Miami, could be out through at least the end of the week, Mignano said.
The Wildcats didn’t need him against Amityville.
Moran, batting third, singled three times with three RBIs. Cleanup hitter Tyler Osik clubbed three doubles and had four RBIs. Center fielder Marc Frick had five RBIs with a home run and two doubles.
Frick put the finishing touches on the game with a two-run shot into the sunset in right field in the sixth inning.
“He’s got a lot of power,” Mignano said. “He hit that thing against the wind.”
When Bottari returns to the lineup, the Wildcats feature a formidable middle of the lineup. With Bottari out, the ripple effect trickles down over the entire lineup.
“It’s huge,” Mignano said. “Not only do you lose his bat, but you lose how the other guys are going to get pitched to. It changes the way Osik behind him gets pitched to. It changes everything.”
Leadoff hitter Brian Morrell reached base four times. He walked his first three at-bats, scoring runs each time before hitting an RBI single in the fourth.
The Wildcats will play one more with Amityville Wednesday before a makeup game against Mount Sinai Thursday at home. They close out their series with Amityville Friday.