07/13/13 11:39pm
07/13/2013 11:39 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | The caps of the Riverhead Tomcats, the North Fork Ospreys and the Shelter Island Bucks on top of the North All Stars dugout. For one game, representatives of those teams were teammates.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | The caps of the Riverhead Tomcats, the North Fork Ospreys and the Shelter Island Bucks on top of the North All Stars dugout. For one game, representatives of those teams were teammates.

HCBL ALL-STAR GAME | NORTH ALL STARS 4, SOUTH ALL STARS 1 (10 INNINGS)

It’s safe to say that the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League does things differently.

For one thing, the first-year league’s inaugural all-star game was played a full 10 innings, not out of necessity, but in order to give the 10 pitchers on each team a chance to pitch.

What would Abner Doubleday think?

Well, for one thing, he might have been the first to applaud another oddity, or rather a treat to behold. Matt Peacock, a closer for the Riverhead Tomcats, snatched a line drive out of the air with his bare hand to earn the save for the North All Stars in their 4-1 victory over the South All Stars on Saturday night at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic. Numerous witnesses said it was something they had never seen before.

“Maybe in a video game, but not in real life,” said Shelter Island Bucks catcher Joe Burns, who joined with other representatives of the Bucks, the North Fork Ospreys and the Tomcats to form the North team. “That was crazy.”

Peacock turned in the undoubted play of the game — if not the year. After striking out two straight batters with two runners on base, he made the remarkable barehanded grab of the liner hit by Mitch Montaldo in the top of the 10th inning, clinching the game. Peacock held the ball up in his bare right hand for a moment as if he had just surprised himself with what he did. Spectators were stunned.

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Shelter Island catcher Joe Burns was named the most valuable player of the inaugural Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shelter Island catcher Joe Burns was named the most valuable player of the inaugural Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game.

“It just kind of happened, a reaction like, oh, a ball, catch the ball and out,” said Peacock, who claimed afterward that his hand felt fine. “I saw it come at me. It wasn’t [hit] that hard. I didn’t want him to get to first.”

Like others, Riverhead third baseman Andre Jernigan had trouble believing what he saw. “It’s the craziest thing I’ve seen in a while,” he said.

Randy Caden, the Tomcats manager who served as the North’s head coach, said he would have to explain to Peacock’s college coach at South Alabama what happened. “It was an amazing play,” said Caden.

A fitting one, perhaps, given the high-caliber performances on display. Neither side made an error over the course of the 10 innings.

Some may say it was only an exhibition, but it was the league’s showcase event. Playing in front of major league scouts, players undoubtedly wanted to look their best.

“You get to see how talented this league is, a lot of great players,” Ospreys pitcher Dalton Curtis said. “You want to do well because you’re representing your team and everything.”

If some nerves were involved, that would only be natural.

“If anything, I think everybody is kind of amped up, a little nervous, but once the first pitch is thrown, all the nerves go away,” Jernigan said. “It’s just another game of baseball and it’s really fun. Have fun with it.”

Burns and Jernigan both clocked two-run doubles, accounting for the North’s runs. Burns, a St. John’s player whose two-out double in the third inning brought the North a 2-1 lead, received the game’s most valuable player award for his contributions.

“It’s a great honor to come out here with a bunch of great players and hold this up at the end,” said Burns, clutching the MVP award and the bat he was presented with after the game. “Honestly, I was just going in trying to have some fun tonight.”

The South, which included players from the Center Moriches Battlecats, the Sag Harbor Whalers, the Southampton Breakers and the Westhampton Aviators, scored first in the third. Riverhead pitcher Brendan Mulligan, who was credited with the win, issued full-count walks to both David Real and Ryan Spaulding before Kyle Zech dropped a single into shallow left-center field, loading the bases. Joey Havrilak then delivered a sacrifice fly.

But walks helped the North pull in front almost immediately after that. In the bottom half of the inning, Austin Miller of the Ospreys and Jerry Downs of the Tomcats drew passes before Burns brought them home with his double.

The North gave itself more of a cushion in the fifth. After Justin Jones worked a leadoff walk, his Bucks teammate Kevin Brantley singled. Then Jernigan golfed a two-bagger to deep center field, scoring them both.

The South made things interesting in the 10th when its first two batters, David Leiderman and Dan Shea, reached base on an infield single and a walk. But then Peacock buckled down, striking out Zach Persky and Justin Montemayor before making that memorable grab.

“It’s something I’ll never forget,” Jernigan said of his all-star experience. “You see some amazing things.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | The North All Stars during the singing of the national anthem.

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | The North All Stars during the singing of the national anthem.

06/17/13 8:33pm
06/17/2013 8:33 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | North Fork shortstop Eric Solberg tagging out Riverhead's Josh Mason, who tried to steal second base in the second inning.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | North Fork shortstop Eric Solberg tagging out Riverhead’s Josh Mason, who tried to steal second base in the second inning.

OSPREYS 6, TOMCATS 5

Baseball is a quirky game. One can never be sure what play will spark a win or what result can turn a season around.

For their part, the North Fork Ospreys hope they found the spark they were looking for on Monday.

The last-place Ospreys fizzled late in several Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League games this season, and one couldn’t help but wonder if another late-game meltdown was in the making on Monday against the Riverhead Tomcats.

Ironically, relief pitching, which had been the team’s Achilles’ heel, saved the day. Specifically, it was the relief pitching of Joe Salanitri that came through down the stretch as the Ospreys held on for a 6-5 victory that had to feel good for them. It was their first road win of the season and the Tomcats’ first home loss.

How big was the win?

“They’re all the same, but you want to win one every day,” Ospreys manager Bill Ianniciello said. “We’re in a little bit of a hole with some losses. They’re all big for us right now.”

Speaking of big, Mike Hayden came up big for the Ospreys (4-8) with a three-hit day. It was Hayden’s double in the seventh inning that scored Jim Pjura for a 6-4 Ospreys lead.

That run proved to be an important one, as the Tomcats (5-5) made things uncomfortable for the visitors in the ninth. Jack Sundberg and pinch hitter Andre Jernigan opened the bottom half of the inning with singles for the Tomcats. Sundberg scored from second base when Jernigan’s single slipped past the left fielder, making it a one-run game.

That is when the Ospreys might have been thinking to themselves: “Oh no. Not again.”

After Ianniciello visited the mound, Salanitri (1-1) retired the next three batters for the win. That was the only run Salanitri allowed in his four and two-thirds innings in relief of Cody Johnson.

“It was down to the wire,” Sundberg said. “I thought we had it there for a second.”

Johnson had an odd pitching line. He allowed only two hits and two earned runs over his four and one-third innings, but what hurt him were walks, eight of them altogether.

Five of those walks came in succession in the third inning when the Tomcats scored four runs to tie the score at 4-4. Jerry Downs and Josh Mason drew bases-loaded passes before another two runs scored on an error.

“A lot of walks,” Sundberg said. “You got to be patient and really just wait for your pitch, and if it’s not there, just keep walking.”

The Ospreys avoided further damage when, with runners on second and third, Charley Gould shot a flare that right fielder Michael Fries made a nice shoestring catch on before firing a throw home to catcher Mike D’Acunti for a snazzy double play, ending the inning.

Tomcats manager Randy Caden disagreed vehemently with the umpire’s call, but he couldn’t ignore the fact that his team left 10 runners on base, hitting 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position.

“We left too many men on base,” Caden said. “We had to score in those opportunities.”

The Ospreys had scored in each of the first three innings. Pjura delivered a sacrifice fly in the first, Nick Heath tripled in two runs in the second, and one out after a Pjura ground-rule double, D’Acunti rapped a single to bring Pjura home in the third. Heath also stole three bases and walked twice.

In the sixth, the Ospreys went in front, 5-4, thanks to back-to-back singles by Eric Solberg and Austin Miller.

“We just came out aggressive and stayed that way the whole game,” said Hayden, who raised his batting average to .405 with his production on Monday. “Usually that’s what it takes to win games.”

The Tomcats’ starting pitcher, Mike Dolce, entered the game with a 0.90 earned run average, which ranked him second in the league. The Ospreys didn’t do badly against him, though, scoring four runs in the four innings he pitched before Caden brought in Christian Colletti to give him some work.

“That was pretty good because he usually doesn’t give up runs,” said Caden.

For the Ospreys, the manner in which they won might have been a sign of better things to come. When that was suggested to Ianniciello, the manager said, “One at a time.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead's Michael; Brosseau dove safely back to the bag before North Fork first baseman Mike Hayden could slap a tag on him.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead’s Michael Brosseau dove safely back to the bag before North Fork first baseman Mike Hayden could slap a tag on him.

06/12/13 9:02pm
06/12/2013 9:02 PM

BILL LANDON PHOTO | Riverhead senior Matt Crohan with the Yastrzemski Award, which he received Wednesday night at the Suffolk Baseball Coaches Assocciation’s all-county dinner.

For two months this spring, Matt Crohan mowed through lineup after lineup in dominating fashion for the Riverhead baseball team. The Blue Waves’ ace lefty ran off a 44-straight-inning scoreless streak and pitched a pair of no-hitters.

His achievements were at the forefront Wednesday night as Crohan was honored with the the Yastrzemski Award as the top baseball player in Suffolk County. Named in honor of Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, the award has been given every year since 1968.

Crohan became the first Riverhead player to ever win the award.

“Everyone in this room is so talented and everyone had such great years,” Crohan said. “To be recognized for that just feels great.”

Crohan received the award at the Suffolk Baseball Coaches Association’s all-county dinner at Villa Lombardi in Holbrook. Crohan was the League IV Most Valuable Player, which put him in contention for the Yastrzemski Award.

He was also presented Newsday’s Long Island Player of the Year Award and was one of nine Suffolk County players to be named to Newsday’s All-Long Island first team.

“I’m very proud of him,” said Riverhead coach Rob Maccone. “He worked hard and deserved it.”

A three-year varsity player who will attend Winthrop University, Crohan was a duel threat this season both on the mound and at the plate. It was his pitching prowess that stood out most as Crohan struck out 104 batters in 47 innings, a school record. At the plate he batted over .400.

It took until the final game of the season before Crohan gave up a run. And that came on a two-out hit by Fordham-bound Luke Stampfl, one of the top hitters in the county. The only runs he gave up all season came in that one inning.

Opponents batted a measly .060 against Crohan this season.

This marks the second straight year a local player won the Yastrzemski Award. Last year Mike O’Reilly of Shoreham-Wading River won it.

joew@timesreview.com

06/09/13 8:11am
06/09/2013 8:11 AM
DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | North Fork pitcher Anthony Rosati earned his first win of the season, allowing Riverhead six hits over six innings.

DANIEL DE MATO PHOTO | North Fork pitcher Anthony Rosati earned his first win of the season, allowing Riverhead six hits over six innings.

OSPREYS 6, TOMCATS 3

First baseman Mike Hayden clubbed a two-run home run and shortstop Eric Solberg doubled in another two runs as the North Fork Ospreys recorded a 6-3 victory over the Riverhead Tomcats in a Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League game at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic on Saturday night.

Right-hander Anthony Rosati worked in and out of trouble in his six innings of work and earned his first win of the season as North Fork improved to 2-3 while Riverhead fell to 1-1. Rosati, a Copiague resident who attends St. John’s University, scattered six hits while walking five and striking out four batters.

The Ospreys needed three relief pitchers to close out the game, with another St. John’s pitcher, right-hander Thomas Hackimer, to get the final two outs after the Tomcats scored twice in the ninth inning.

The Tomcats had taken a 1-0 lead on Austin Davis’ run-scoring single in the top of the fourth inning before the hosts took the lead for good behind Solberg’s two-run double and Tyler Bethune driving in another run with a groundout in the bottom of the inning. North Fork added two more runs in the sixth on Hayden’s homer to left-center field.

06/02/13 8:45pm
06/02/2013 8:45 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead's starting pitcher, Matt Peacock, gave up one earned run and four hits over six innings.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead’s starting pitcher, Matt Peacock, gave up one earned run and four hits over six innings.

TOMCATS 5, OSPREYS 4

It was a new beginning in more ways than one. A new season and a new league, and a season-opening game between two teams with plenty of new faces.

The seven eastern Suffolk County teams that formed a division of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League last year, broke off and formed their own circuit, the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League. The HCBL, one of 12 summer leagues in the country that is sanctioned by Major League Baseball, was christened on Sunday with three games to start the season.

After the league president, Brett Mauser, threw out the ceremonial first pitch, the North Fork Ospreys and the Riverhead Tomcats engaged in an old-fashioned thriller. A home run by Jerry Downs kick-started a four-run seventh inning for the Tomcats, who held on for a 5-4 victory on their home field. Both teams held leads in the game, showing their ability to bounce back.

“We just kept fighting and fighting and fighting,” said Downs, the right fielder from St. Thomas University (Fla).

Downs is one of the many newcomers to the league. The Ospreys have two returning players in infielders Ryan Burns and Austin Miller. The Tomcats have two players back as well, infielder Joe Forney and pitcher Alex Summers.

The only player on either team with local ties is Ospreys outfielder Yianni Rauseo, a former Mattituck High School star who is coming off his sophomore season at Oswego State. He did not play in Sunday’s game.

The Tomcats have some interesting additions themselves. Two of their players, Ozney Guillén and Austin Davis, have fathers who played in the major leagues. Ozzie Guillén earned fame as both a player for a number of clubs and as a manager for the Chicago White Sox and the Miami Marlins. Doug Davis was a pitcher for several major league teams.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | The Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League president, Brett Mauser, is handed the ball by Riverhead Tomcats catcher Jason Gordon after throwing the ceremonial first pitch.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | The Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League president, Brett Mauser, is handed the ball by Riverhead Tomcats catcher Jason Gordon after throwing the ceremonial first pitch.

“It’s a new breed of kids, and they know baseball,” Riverhead manager Randy Caden said. “You can see they know baseball.”

They surely know a game goes nine innings, and not to give up hope until it is over.

Following Downs’ solo blast to left field, a sacrifice fly by Michael Brosseau brought in the second run of the seventh. Jason Gordon and Jonah Lakatos later scored on a throwing error, giving the Tomcats a 5-3 lead. The Tomcats might have done more damage that inning if not for a splendid play by Ospreys shortstop Joe Salanitri. With a runner on second base, Tyler Fox struck a looping liner that Salanitri did well to race back on for a running backhanded grab in shallow left field that saved a run and ended the inning.

Caden, who because of personal reasons didn’t arrive at the field until the bottom of the second inning, joked, “I got them four runs, great coaching from the bench.”

The Ospreys made things interesting in the ninth, though, pulling to within 5-4 when a two-out chopper by James Howard rolled dead just inside the third baseline for a run-scoring single.

The fans weren’t the only ones sitting on the edge of their seats. “Even though it was the first game, it was nerve-racking,” said Caden.

With the bases loaded, relief pitcher Brendan Mulligan got Tom O’Neill to bounce into a 6-4 fielder’s choice, ending the game. Mulligan earned the win, allowing three hits over three innings while striking out five.

“That’s just what we do,” Ospreys center fielder Nick Heath said. “We just don’t give up on anything, and I feel like if we play like that all season, we’re going to have a great season.”

The two starting pitchers did well. Anthony Rosati of the Ospreys gave up five hits and one earned run in three and a third innings. Matt Peacock of the Tomcats went six innings, giving up four hits and one earned run.

Both sides sounded encouraged by what they saw.

“There’s plenty of talent here,” Ospreys manager Bill Ianniciello said. “We have good players from quality programs.”

Ianniciello noted that the summer league is a good opportunity for players to get at-bats and playing time. Some players coming off their freshmen seasons did not play much or at all if they were red-shirted. “A lot of them, for that reason, they’re eager to go,” said Ianniciello.

As is the case with many teams early in a college summer league season, the Tomcats were still awaiting the arrival of seven players. Because of that, the team didn’t have any extra field players available, so a pitcher, Lakatos, filled in as the designated hitter.

“We’re a little low right now, so as soon as we get a full team I think we’re going to be alright,” Caden said. “We made two [division] finals in three years, so I told these guys, maybe we can go all the way this year. It would be nice, you know.”

Those kind of thoughts come with opening day.

bliepa@timesreview.com

05/17/13 7:22pm
05/17/2013 7:22 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River second baseman Kyle Pendergast tries to turn a double play against Eastport-South Manor Friday.

There will be a new county champion in 2013.

Shoreham-Wading River fell 8-1 Friday afternoon at Eastport-South Manor in a Class A loser’s bracket game, ending the Wildcats’ run of two straight county championships. The Wildcats dropped into the loser’s bracket after a 4-1 loss to Sayville Wednesday.

The sixth-seeded Wildcats caught a tough break facing the second-seeded Sharks in the first game of the loser’s bracket. The Sharks, who won League VI, were upset in the first round by John Glenn, a team that needed to win its final four games of the regular season in League VII to clinch a playoff spot.

Led by starting left-hander John Maccio, the Sharks dominated early to quickly blow the game open. Maccio pitched a complete game, giving up three hits with seven strikeouts. The Sharks scored three in the second and four in the fourth, more than enough to hold off the Wildcats.

Shoreham (12-10) used four pitchers and starter Evan Kearney took the loss.

Eastport third baseman Mat Annunziata was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.

Shoreham was still without its top hitter, Nick Bottari. He’s been sidelined most of the spring with torn cartilage in his wrist.

The Wildcats ended the season on five-game skid, after getting swept by top-seeded Bayport-Blue Point in the final series before the playoffs.

Eastport (17-5) still faces a long road through the loser’s bracket. The Sharks will play again Monday against Miller Place, needing five more wins in a row to claim the county championship.

Bayport will face Sayville Wednesday and the winner will be one win away from the county title.

05/11/13 10:00am
05/11/2013 10:00 AM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | The Flanders Little League Opening day has been postponed. Here's Fisher Landscaping pitcher Chris, 11, warming up at last year's event.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | The Flanders Little League Opening day has been postponed. Here’s Fisher Landscaping pitcher Chris, 11, warming up at last year’s event.

The Flanders Little League opening day event scheduled for this afternoon has been postponed due to the weather forecast.

Officials are expected to announce a new date and time shortly, according to the league’s Facebook page.

Check back later for an update.

05/07/13 7:19pm
05/07/2013 7:19 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead senior Matt Crohan gave up his first runs of the season Tuesday against Half Hollow Hills West.

COLTS 4, BLUE WAVES 2

Over the course of 44 innings this season, Riverhead’s towering left-hander Matt Crohan has stared down batter after batter, delivering out after out, 75 percent of which were a strikeout.

Over 44 innings, Crohan appeared as unhittable as any high school pitcher can. In the fifth inning of a tied game Tuesday against Half Hollow Hills West — the score fittingly knotted at zero — Crohan finally met his match.

Hills West shortstop Luke Stampfl drilled a long drive into the right-centerfield gap for a three-run home run — the first runs Crohan has allowed this season.

Stampfl’s home run on a 1-1 curveball was enough to propel the Colts to a 4-2 victory, putting a huge dent in the Blue Waves’ playoff hopes. Riverhead (9-9, 8-8 League IV) will need to win its final two games against Hills West (13-5, 11-5) to qualify for the postseason.

Crohan was still dominant, striking out 16 batters in the loss. He raised his season total to 104 strikeouts in 47 innings, a school record.

His ERA now stands at 0.595.

If not for a hit batsman, Stampfl (2-for-4) likely never would have gotten the chance to deliver the big blow. With two out and a runner on second, the Colts had their ninth hitter, Sal Lovaglio, at the plate with Stampfl on deck.

Lovaglio took the first pitch he saw off his left shoulder, sending him to first base and bringing the Fordham-bound slugger Stampfl to the plate.

After the home run the Colts punched another run across the plate when Tom Digiorgi hit an RBI double to left field.

The Blue Waves tried to rally in the seventh. Ryan Gaffney hit a line drive to right field that got past the right fielder, allowing him and Cody Smith to score.

Jon Faraci got the next two outs for Hills West to end the game. Sophomore Aaron Glickstein earned the win for Hills West with five scoreless innings.

The Blue Waves had plenty of chances early in the game to grab the lead. They stranded 10 runners — six in scoring position — through the first five innings.

Crohan allowed only three hits over seven innings.

joew@timesreview.com