With no Ryan Mullahey, there was no win for Shoreham-Wading River in Game 1 of the Suffolk County Class A baseball finals.
Well, the connection wasn’t that clear-cut, but it surely didn’t help Shoreham not to have Mullahey available for Monday’s Memorial Day matinee against visiting Rocky Point. Had Mullahey, the team’s No. 2 pitcher, not been ejected in Shoreham’s previous game and been forced to serve an automatic one-game suspension, he would have been on the mound Monday. Instead, both sides went with their No. 3 arms — Rocky Point’s Ryan Maciaszek and Shoreham’s Aidan Crowley.
With home runs by Joe Grillo and Alexander Bonacci highlighting a 12-hit attack, and steady pitching by Maciaszek, No. 2 Rocky Point hammered the No. 1 Wildcats, 10-1, at Kevin Williams Memorial Field. It was Shoreham’s worst loss of the year in terms of run margin.
“Yeah, I was a little shocked,” said Shoreham catcher Ethan Baumack.
He wasn’t the only one.
The matchup between League VI champion Rocky Point (19-5) and League VII champion Shoreham (18-4) was expected to be a good one. Yet, a blowout unfolded. Now, if Shoreham is to win a second straight county title, it must win Game 2 Tuesday in Rocky Point. That would set up a decisive third game in Shoreham Wednesday.
“That’s not the way we expected the outcome to be,” Shoreham first baseman T.J. Wachter said. “We were looking to come out swinging.”
It was Rocky Point that came out swinging — hard, early and often.
The Eagles jumped to a 3-0 lead in the second inning when Grillo fouled off two 3-and-2 pitches before sending a two-out, two-run shot over rightfield. “It was a battle of an at-bat,” said Shoreham coach Kevin Willi.
Earlier, John Rosman had scored on a bounced wild pitch.
Rob Milopsky belted a one-out RBI single past sprawling third baseman Nick Bettenhauser in the third to knock Crowley out of the game.
After doubling, Rosman scored again in the fourth on a double steal to make it 5-0.
That lead expanded to 6-0 when Bonacci slammed a homer over leftfield to lead off the fifth.
Meanwhile, Maciaszek did his thing. He fell one out shy of a complete game, being relieved by Anthony DeNobrega with the bases loaded in the seventh. Maciaszek allowed seven hits and five walks as part of his 118-pitch outing. He struck out four.
“He’s a reliable guy because you know he’s going to be in the strike zone,” Rocky Point coach Andrew Aschettino said. “He’s not going to overpower anyone, but when his slider’s working, he becomes real tough to square up.”
The only run Shoreham scratched off Maciaszek came in the fifth. D.J. Brown, who led off by shooting a double off the leftfield fence, was brought home by Wachter’s single.
To cement the result, Rocky Point tacked on four insurance runs in the seventh when Rosman’s second double of the game scored a run, Dillon Cassidy singled in another and a two-run single by Mike Gunning capped his 3-for-4 day.
“You never anticipate that, especially against these guys,” Aschettino said of the one-sided game. “These guys, they’re the class of the county year after year and you got to kind of come in expecting to grind.”
Rocky Point, making its fourth appearance in the county finals, has never won a county championship, according to Aschettino. “We got to find a way to win the big one, but that was a good start,” he said.
Shoreham’s not used to losing, and certainly not used to being routed.
“Things just didn’t go our way and we got to learn how to play from behind,” Wachter said. He added: “After we were down 3-nothing, I feel like we just gave up, and I feel like the best teams know how to come back after rough times. We can’t give up.”
Shoreham lost the services of Mullahey in the first inning of a 1-0 win over Miller Place Friday. While rushing back to the first-base bag to avoid being picked off, he ran into first baseman Coleton Reitan, knocked him down and was tossed.
Willi’s plan now is to pitch Mullahey on Tuesday and have his No. 1 pitcher, Gabe Romano, available if the series goes to a third game. He said, “We won two games in a row a bunch of times this season, so we can do it again.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River shortstop Jesse Keshner catching a fly ball in short left with Joe Brown backing him up in Game 1 of the Suffolk County Class A finals. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)