Considering that Riverhead had opened the season with series against the three premier baseball teams in Suffolk County League III, it was quite conceivable that the Blue Waves could have started off with an 0-9 record.
Considering that Riverhead had a .194 team batting average in those first nine games (and was the victim of no-hitters by Half Hollow Hills East and Smithtown East), it’s rather surprising that the Blue Waves are 3-6 in league play.
“The games that we won, we got big hits when we needed to and the games that we didn’t win, we didn’t get those hits,” coach Rob Maccone said. “To come out with a .194 batting average and have three wins, that’s a big plus.”
Riverhead took two of three games from Smithtown West and won a game against Smithtown East. Those could prove to be big wins when playoff time approaches.
Speaking about Riverhead’s hitting before Monday’s game, catcher Justin Clement said, “We weren’t really smoking anything.”
Riverhead also had to deal with some tough pitching from those teams. “We probably faced three or four of the best arms in the county,” said Maccone.
So, perhaps one can put an asterisk next to that .194 batting average.
“We haven’t been completing our chances, as it is,” rightfielder Jared Polak said. “We’ll have runners in scoring position, and we won’t score them. We’ll put the ball in play but the other team will make the play.”
So, given that background, perhaps there was some partial encouragement for Riverhead Monday, even in a 7-3 non-league loss to Northport at the Pulaski Sports Complex. Riverhead (3-7 overall) hit 9-for-27, with two-hit games from Clement, Scott Thompson and Polak.
Did Maccone see signs of a turnaround?
“We were squaring some balls up and we were hitting some balls hard,” he said. “We swung the bats better, but our biggest issue is we haven’t been able to get that big hit.”
On the down side for Riverhead were the missed opportunities. The Blue Waves hit 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight baserunners.
It didn’t help Riverhead that Northport (5-5, 4-5 League II) struck for four runs (all unearned) in the first inning. A fielding error allowed Jake McCarthy to score before Chris Caravousanos drove an RBI double, D.L. Rodriguez pounded an RBI single and Rodriguez stole home.
“We just always have that one inning that always messes us up,” said Polak.
Riverhead pulled two runs back in its half of the first through a Tom Powers sacrifice fly and D.J. Chandler scoring while Thompson got caught — apparently intentionally — in a rundown. But Northport never relinquished the lead.
Riverhead pulled to within a run in the third when Thompson sprayed an RBI single. Northport responded by scoring a run through a George Sutherland sacrifice fly in the fifth and tacking on two more runs in the seventh from a chopped infield single by McCarthy that left reliever Mike McCormack with no play and a sharp single by Caravousanos.
Northport’s starter, Sean Klein, allowed five hits and three runs over four innings. He walked three and struck out two.
Riverhead’s starter, Thompson, lasted an inning longer. He gave up one earned run, no walks and fanned three.
With a remaining schedule that is more forgiving than what Riverhead has experienced so far, the team is optimistic about getting in the playoff hunt.
“It’s not doom and gloom,” Maccone said. “If you told me before the season that we would be 3 and 6 at the halfway point, I would have signed up for that.”
Sometimes 3-6 isn’t bad at all.