On a near perfect day to play baseball with nary a cloud in the sky, Shoreham-Wading River pitcher Gabriel Romano, quite appropriately, was near perfect.
In an abbreviated four-inning game, the senior righthander was spot on. Romano threw a no-hitter, allowing only one baserunner to reach base on a walk while fanning seven batters in the Wildcats’ victory over Amityville on Monday.
“He didn’t allow a hit, which was awesome,” Shoreham coach Kevin Willi after his team’s 34-0 Suffolk County League VI home win. “It was another good outing for him. He’s putting together a real good year.”
The Warriors (0-13, 0-13) weren’t the only challenge for Romano (3-0). With Shoreham (9-1, 9-1) scoring many times in seemingly endless innings, he admitted it was difficult to concentrate sitting down for long periods of time.
“It was really tough mentally, more than physically,” he said. “If it was 20 minutes, I would go out there and throw a little bit and warm up. It was more of the mental aspect of sitting there for a long period of time. You start to lose your focus. You’ve just got to lock in and you’ll be good.”
He was. Romano struck out the first seven batters. Second baseman Joey Slack was the only batter to reach base on a third-inning walk.
The Warriors put the ball in play only three times.
“We knew Gabe would throw strikes and that’s what he did,” said second baseman D.J. Brown, one of the hitting heroes of the game.
Catcher Ryan Mullahey said that when Romano gets his fastball moving, “he’s got a great two-seam tail on it. He’s pretty much unhittable. He’s got that great wipeout curveball. It’s really good. I heard a batter say, ‘Wow,’ when he struck out. That tells you all about it.”
The Wildcats had some wow moments of their own. They scored nine runs in the first inning against starter Kevin Bonilla and another 20 in the second. Both coaches agreed to limit the game to four innings because the score got out of hand.
Mullahey led the way, reaching base six times, smacking a grand slam, his first home run of the year, and driving in seven runs.
“He was patient at the plate,” Willi said. “There were a couple of borderline pitches he didn’t chase. When you have a pitcher who is not throwing particularly hard, it’s difficult to stay off pitches that are around the edge. He did a real good job. A really disciplined approach for him today.”
Brown, the ninth-place hitter, went 4-for-4 with three doubles and six RBIs.
“You have to makes sure you take on every at-bat the same way no matter who the pitcher is,” he said. “You’ve got to make sure you’re focused, no matter what.”
From the second inning on, Shoreham tried not to run up the score any more than it was by going station to station on the bases when balls were not hit into the alleys and not advancing on wild pitches or passed balls. Five Shoreham reserves were inserted into the game early on. During the second inning, the scoreboard was shut off.
“It all comes down to coaching and all the way back to [legendary coach] Sal Mignano on what he wanted this program to be, which is hardball with class,” Mullahey said. “Which is what we live by here. We should play every game hard but be respectful at the same time.”
Willi gave the Warriors credit for never quitting.
“Chris [Diot], their coach and their guys have a really good attitude,” he said. “They’re out there having fun, playing hard the whole time. They want to keep playing. They like the challenge. All their guys were not moping, they were sprinting on and off the field. There’s a lot to be said about that, about having a really rough game like that, getting out of hand, and they’re still playing 100 percent, still hard. I only wish my guys would do that in the same situation.”
Shoreham came back from a 10-day layoff, not playing since a 6-0 loss to Sayville on April 13. The Wildcats had a bye week last week, though they participated in four scrimmages.
“We kept fresh, practiced a couple of days,” Willi said. “Our guys were really beat up because we played four games the last week against really good teams. The guys were a little gassed, so it was nice to have a bye week.”
Romano and Shoreham showed they had very little rust on Monday.
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River pitcher Gabriel Romano threw a no-hitter in a four-inning game against Amityville. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)