It hurt Shoreham-Wading River to drop two games from its three-game Suffolk County League VII baseball series with Mount Sinai, but what was much more painful was watching Vincent Uzzi clutching his right knee in obvious agony after tumbling to the ground.
Uzzi, who led off the bottom of the seventh inning for Shoreham on Saturday by chopping a single through the infield, hurt his knee while dashing from first to second base on a wild pitch. There was no throw on the play, and Uzzi appeared about to dive before pulling up at the last moment. A sequence of photos show Uzzi’s right leg fully extended while his momentum pushed him forward while his right leg was planted in the ground. He leapt off his left leg before landing and immediately grabbing his right knee. After a trainer arrived to check him, Uzzi was helped off the field, at first hardly putting any pressure on his knee and then none at all.
“It was one of those awkward plays where you plan the slide, and then you realize the ball is a passed ball and he tries to stay up at the same time,” Shoreham coach Kevin Willi said after the 4-1 loss to Mount Sinai at Kevin Williams Memorial Field in Shoreham. “His foot kind of gave way. It looked like he hyperextended it.”
Willi later said in a text message that the trainer’s initial thought was the injury wasn’t too serious.
“We were screaming, ‘Up! Up!’ ” Shoreham’s Brian Morrell said. “We just saw him go down and something happened to his knee and I’m scared because he’s a big piece to our team. I just hope he’s OK.”
Willi said Uzzi, a junior left fielder, had been hitting about .500.
Uzzi was responsible for one of Shoreham’s three hits against Mount Sinai (5-1, 5-1), which received a superb pitching performance from James Sarno (1-1). After giving up a leadoff single to T.J. Sicoli in the first, Sarno retired 16 of the next 17 batters. The righthander pitched into the seventh before Sam Kessler relieved him for the two-out save. Sarno walked two, struck out three and did not allow an earned run.
“Some guys at this level are throwers,” Willi said. “He was a pitcher.”
Kessler led off the game by nailing a double before later scoring on a wild pitch.
In the fourth, Mount Sinai loaded the bases with no outs on a pair of walks wrapped around a single by D.J. Gatz on a hit and run. Shoreham’s starter, Brandon Bottari, escaped with minimal damage, only one run scoring on Jake Golino’s bases-loaded walk to make it 2-0. Bottari (1-1) can thank Uzzi for making a catch and then rifling a throw to catcher Chris Sperruzzi, who tagged Gatz out at home plate for a double play.
The Mustangs expanded their lead to 4-0 in the fifth. Singles by Kessler and Jared Donnelly brought in the third run and George Rainer delivered the fourth with a groundout.
Two errors in the sixth allowed Shoreham (4-2, 4-2) to get on the scoreboard. Tom Brady reached base on a fielding error and scored on a throwing miscue.
Light rain fell for most of the game before picking up in the sixth inning. By the game’s end, the temperature had fallen to 39 degrees.
It was a triumphant return for Mount Sinai assistant coach Ryan Pembroke, a former Shoreham player now on coach Eric Reichenbach’s staff.
Shoreham had given itself instant credibility by opening the season with a three-game sweep of Bayport-Blue Point. Bayport and Elwood/John Glenn were co-league champions last year.
“I think it shows what kind of team we’re going to be because as the season progresses, we’ll just get better,” said Shoreham first baseman Miles Kelly.
On Friday, Morrell flirted with what would have been his fourth career no-hitter as the Wildcats pulled out a 2-1 triumph in eight innings in Mount Sinai. Morrell tripled in a run before scoring on a wild pitch in the eighth. The junior fired 14 strikeouts, allowing three hits and two walks.
Shoreham has quite a pitching staff with all three of its starters committed to colleges: Morrell (Notre Dame), Zach White (New York Tech) and Bottari (Drew University).
The Wildcats’ more immediate thoughts on Saturday centered around Uzzi’s health, though.
“He’s been ridiculous for us,” Kelly said. “He’s been stroking the ball really well and I just hope he’s coming back.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River left fielder Vincent Uzzi grabs his right knee after taking an awkward fall while running the bases in the seventh inning. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)