06/29/11 10:48am
06/29/2011 10:48 AM

The intangible of “finding ways to win” isn’t lost on the Sag Harbor Whalers. They’ve been doing it for a week straight and it has resulted in a meteoric climb up the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League’s Hampton Division standings.

As if a division-best earned run average and fielding percentage wasn’t enough, the Whalers got a little luck on Tuesday. Kevin Herlihy struck out but reached base on a dropped third strike. Not only that, Herlihy tore around the bases thanks to the catcher’s overthrow as well as an errant relay throw, giving Sag Harbor a stunning 3-2 victory over the Riverhead Tomcats.

The win was the Whalers’ third straight by one run and fifth in a row overall. They committed zero errors in four of those contests, and the pitching staff has yielded just six runs during that stretch.

Herlihy waved at a pitch by the Tomcats’ Casey Smith, but the ball squirted away from catcher Frank Schwindel. His throw to first sailed into foul territory, well down the right-field line. Herlihy never let up and took off for third on the delayed throw into the infield. The relay to third was off, and Herlihy was awarded home as the ball went out of play.

The teams traded runs in the first. Riverhead plated a run on a groundout by Schwindel, and Sag Harbor answered when Nate LaPointe singled in Charlie Curl.

Sag Harbor took advantage of another Tomcats mishap, which scored Josy Espinal, but Schwindel delivered again, doubling to right center to bring in Eric Romano.

Each starting pitcher was effective. Riverhead’s Nick Albero gave up two runs over five innings. Sag Harbor’s Ed Macaluso surrendered two over six innings. Once again, the Whalers bullpen shined. This time, it was righty John Antonelli, who tossed three shutout innings to earn the win in relief. He has thrown 12 2/3 innings without allowing a run.

06/27/11 12:09pm
06/27/2011 12:09 PM

Ryan Williams homered, drove in four runs and stole a base for the North Fork Ospreys, who were 10-4 winners over the Riverhead Tomcats in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League on Sunday.

The visiting Ospreys also received two runs batted in apiece from Rocco Gondek (3 for 5) and Ian Vazquez.

Kris Selvaggi struck out three over two and one-third hitless, scoreless innings to pick up the win.

Eric Romano of the Tomcats went 4 for 5, knocking in one run and scoring another. Another Riverhead player, Keith Herring, had a home run and two RBI.

The first-place Ospreys improved their record to 10-4 while the Tomcats fell to 7-8.

06/24/11 9:04pm
06/24/2011 9:04 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead third baseman Alex Gouin used his glove as well as his bat to help the Tomcats top Southampton.

Things were getting a little tight down the stretch. Both the potential tying and winning runs were on base. The pressure was on.

That’s just the way Brett Schreiber likes it.

Indeed, it seems like Schreiber thrives under pressure. He’s a pitcher with a closer’s mentality. No wonder that’s the role he prefers.

“The tougher [the situation], the better” he is, said Tomcats Coach Randy Caden.

Well, the numbers don’t lie. With Schreiber’s third save of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League season Friday in the Tomcats’ 2-1 triumph over the Southampton Mariners, he extended an impressive run. The 6-foot-4 right-hander, in his eighth appearance of the season, extended his string of scoreless innings to 12 1/3 innings. What’s more, he has surrendered only five hits and two walks against 16 strikeouts, and has a 1-0 record.

“I think I throw harder when the game’s on the line,” he said.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | David Gibson pitched four scoreless innings for Riverhead, allowing two hits.

Schreiber’s inning of relief and a clutch catch by third baseman Alex Gouin enabled the Tomcats to hold on for the win, bringing their record to 7-7. The Breakers dropped to 5-8.

Schreiber, the fifth pitcher used by the Tomcats, entered the game in the bottom of the ninth inning and struck out the first two batters. It was the third and final out that proved a little tricky, though.

On an unseasonably cool, breezy day, visibility became an issue in the later innings as a heavy fog hovered above the Stony Brook Southampton field. After Schreiber fanned Robb Scott and pinch hitter Tim Swatek, Andrew Shimkus singled down the left-field line and Jordan Zech laced a single into right field, keeping Southampton’s hopes alive. Then, with runners at the corners, Schreiber got Steve Schrenk to hit a high popup in foul territory. Gouin managed to find the ball through the mist for the out.

Game over. Put another save in the books for Schreiber.

“This is him,” Caden said. “He usually doesn’t give up hits, either, but he did a great job again.”

Schreiber, who lives in Westbury and played for Clarke High School, recently completed a freshman season at Hofstra University in which he went 1-0 with a 4.95 earned run average. He said he was primarily used as a seventh- or eighth-inning pitcher, but wants to become a closer for the Pride.

If his stint with the Tomcats can be seen as an audition, he’s faring quite well.

Gouin said Schreiber is doing “an unbelievable job. Every time he goes out there, I’m sure the team feels very confident. He just gets it done.”

Schreiber, who throws a fastball, a slider and a changeup, said the wood bats in the ACBL make things a little easier.

The Tomcats scored a run in the third and fourth innings for a 2-0 lead. Their first two hits of the game came in the third. Mike Johnson doubled past right fielder Steve Harrington and Jamie Wollerman rapped another single to right field. That set up a sacrifice fly by Frank Schwindel. In the fourth, Ryan Lukach reached base on an error, stole second, and scored when Gouin slapped a single along the right-field line.

Riverhead’s starting pitcher, David Gibson, turned in four scoreless innings in which he allowed two hits. He walked two and struck out five.

The Tomcats missed golden opportunities to expand their lead in both the sixth and seventh innings. After the Tomcats loaded the bases with one out in the sixth — prompting the exit of starting pitcher Mike Campbell — reliever Raul Jacobson got Jim Luppens to look at a called third strike and Johnson to fly out to right field, ending the threat. The Tomcats nearly scored in the seventh. With Adam Michel on third base, Schwindel lined a single that struck the backside of an umpire, but Michel was unable to score. Jacobson then got Lukach looking at a third strike for the third out.

Caden, whose team left 10 runners on base, said: “We’ve been doing that all year, leaving guys on base. That’s our downfall right now, but hopefully that will come.”

Then it was Southampton’s turn to load the bases in the seventh. That was the inning in which the Breakers scored their run. A bunt single by Scott, a walk by Tito Marrero and a lined single by Shimkus made that run happen. Zech was then hit by a pitch, loading the bases and prompting Caden to bring in reliever Sean Cabrera. Cabrera got Schrenk to strike out looking.

A couple of innings later it would be Schreiber’s turn to take the mound. On a day like this, when the heat is on, it’s nice to have a pitcher like Schreiber who can bring some heat of his own and not get rattled.

“Some guys can do it,” Caden said. “It doesn’t bother them. It’s a mental thing, and when you find one of those [pitchers], you love to have him.”

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06/22/11 10:05am
06/22/2011 10:05 AM

Rocco Gondek delivered three singles and scored twice for the visiting North Fork Ospreys in their 7-2 victory over the Riverhead Tomcats in an Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League game on Tuesday. Darrin Standish added a couple of hits for the Ospreys (9-3).

Milan Mantle was the winning pitcher. He gave up four hits and two earned runs over five innings.

Patrick Jones homered for the Tomcats (6-7).

06/21/11 3:34pm
06/21/2011 3:34 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Eric Romano, shown making contact, is one of Riverhead's three returning players.

When it came to plans for the summer, at least three college baseball players were thinking the same thing: They wanted to return to Riverhead.

Eric Romano, Eric Schlitter and Jeff Welsh were happy to come back to the Riverhead Tomcats for a second season in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, and the Tomcats are apparently happy to have them back. They are the only three returning players from last year’s team, which took the North Fork Ospreys to three games in the Hampton Division finals. Aside from their experience and skills, they undoubtedly made the Tomcats’ transition to the new season smoother.

“I think with three returning guys, we help to break the ice,” said Schlitter, a junior third baseman for Bridgeport who had a team-leading .379 batting average for the Tomcats through Monday. “The team got real close real quick.”

The players said the good experience they had last summer with Coach Randy Caden and the community was a positive influence.

“I had a good experience last year,” Romano, a sophomore center fielder for Franklin Pierce University (N.H.), said. “I had a good time on the field, Coach Caden was great, and my host family was great. When I had a chance to come back, I didn’t think twice.”

Welsh, a sophomore shortstop for SUNY/Albany, had two words when he was asked if wanted to play in the league again: “Of course.”

For his part, Caden could be grateful he was dealing with known quantities in the three players. “I knew they were good ballplayers,” he said. “I knew I didn’t have to worry about certain positions, and they’re good guys.”

While the threesome provides the Tomcats with some stability, they also find themselves in a much more comfortable situation, knowing what to expect from their coach and surroundings.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead pitcher Aaron Slegers retired the game's first 13 batters.

Caden and his three returning players all agree that the team is stronger than it was last year, even if the Tomcats hit a bit of a stumbling block recently. They had dropped three games in row before almost losing a fourth on Monday. After building leads of 4-0 and 6-2 and seeing their starting pitcher, Aaron Slegers, retire the first 13 batters, the Tomcats watched uneasily as the Westhampton Aviators tied the score at 6-6 when Mike Rosenfeld led off the top of the eighth inning with his first home run of the season.

But the Tomcats prevailed, 7-6, when Keith Herring scored from third base on a wild pitch by Brandon Kuter with two out in the ninth. Herring had drawn a one-out walk, moved to second base on a pickoff attempt gone wrong, and then to third on a groundout.

The Tomcats pulled their record to 6-6 while the Aviators dropped to 7-5.

It wasn’t the cleanest-played game. The Aviators had as many errors (five) as hits, and there were nine errors altogether.

Then again, the Tomcats weren’t about to quibble about style points. The mark in the win column is what counted for them.

Caden said, “We had the game and we gave it away, and we gave the last two games away, so it was big that we won, no matter how we won.”

The Tomcats built a 4-0 lead by the third inning as Zach Mathieu (single), Patrick Jones (fielder’s choice), Romano (single) and Mathieu again (ground-rule double) each knocked in a run. Mathieu went 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles and two runs batted in.

Meanwhile, Slegers was cruising. He did not allow a base runner until Jordan Patterson placed a bunt single with one out in the fifth. He was the first of four straight Aviators to reach base. One of those four was Ray Ortega, who socked a two-run homer, his second of the summer.

In the bottom of the fifth, Romano scored on a balk and Jones singled in a run, making it 6-2.

The Aviators pulled to within 6-5 in the sixth when the Tomcats made three errors. Dan Sorine brought in the first of those runs on a groundout, Kyle Lombardo came home on a wild pitch, and Patterson scored on an error.

Slegers was relieved shortly after that. Over five and two-third innings, he gave up four hits, one walk, two earned runs and struck out five.

“We were on a three-game skid and, truthfully, we didn’t play well enough to win the game,” Welsh said. “We pulled it out. We have a lot to work on for the next 30 games.”

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06/20/11 3:05pm
06/20/2011 3:05 PM

Southampton Breakers pitcher David Speer allowed one run and six hits over six innings as his Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League team defeated the Riverhead Tomcats, 4-1, on Sunday, in Riverhead. He walked two and struck out five.

Robb Scott provided the winners with two runs batted in, and Tim Swatek had two hits, one of which was a double.

Ryan Lukach went 2 for 3 with a walk for the Tomcats, who were charged with six errors.

06/17/11 11:50am
06/17/2011 11:50 AM

Sag Harbor Whalers pitcher Kevin McCarthy did not allow an earned run over eight innings, helping his side to a 5-3 win over the Riverhead Tomcats in an Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League game on Thursday at Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor. McCarthy gave up five hits and two walks, striking out two.

A. J. Solomon doubled twice and scored two runs while Kevin Herlihy drove in two runs for the Whalers.

Two of Riverhead’s runs were knocked in by Alex Gouin. Teammate Keith Herring had two hits, one of which was a double.

06/15/11 10:51am
06/15/2011 10:51 AM

A three-run fourth inning keyed a 5-3 win over the Southampton Breakers by the Riverhead Tomcats, who used a solid outing from starter Sean Cabrera to move into a three-way tie for first place in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League’s Hampton Division on Tuesday.

With Riverhead’s win, as well as the Westhampton Aviators’ defeat of the North Fork Ospreys, those three clubs are tied atop the standings with 5-3 records.

Frank Schwindel erased an early 1-0 deficit with a two-run double and teammate Patrick Jones followed with a run-scoring infield single for the visiting Tomcats. In the sixth inning, Eric Romano singled in another run and the Tomcats added another run in the ninth.

While Riverhead did well with runners in scoring position, Southampton (3-4) struggled in those key spots, leaving two runners on in the third and the bases loaded in the second and fourth.

Brett Schreiber earned his division-leading third save, going two shutout innings.