06/30/15 5:00pm
06/30/2015 5:00 PM
Riverhead pitcher Jake Reinhardt, coming off knee surgery, ranked second in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League with a 0.44 earned run average. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

Riverhead pitcher Jake Reinhardt, coming off knee surgery, ranked second in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League with a 0.44 earned run average. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

Jake Reinhardt, a pitcher, had not played a baseball game in about a year. That’s a long time without baseball for a baseball player.

Then, when the time he had long waited for — the chance to finally play in a game again — had arrived, he was put at, would you believe it, first base.  (more…)

06/03/15 12:00pm
06/03/2015 12:00 PM

Opening day is a special day in baseball. The pageantry, the anticipation and the high hopes teams take into the new season all contribute to a setting that is about as American as it gets. A clean slate is ready to be written on. The story it will tell is anyone’s guess.

The Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League celebrated its third opening day with three games on Sunday, including a matchup between the North Fork Ospreys and the Riverhead Tomcats at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton. They were the first games in an expanded 42-game regular season for the seven-team league.  (more…)

07/30/14 10:00am
07/30/2014 10:00 AM
Dan Popio of Riverhead, who tied for second in the HCBL with five home runs, sliding into second base while Sag Harbor second baseman Ted Shaw covers the bag. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Dan Popio of Riverhead, who tied for second in the HCBL with five home runs, sliding into second base while Sag Harbor second baseman Ted Shaw covers the bag. (Credit: Garret Meade)

In a season in which qualifying for the playoffs was almost akin to drawing straws, the Riverhead Tomcats drew the short one.

Tomcats manager Randy Caden and his players may appreciate what a tight finish to the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League regular season does for fan interest, but his team was left out in the cold, nonetheless. The Tomcats’ 20-20 record was a two-game improvement from last year, but still not enough to avoid missing the postseason for the second year in a row. They were officially eliminated Friday night when the Southampton Breakers beat the North Fork Ospreys. The Tomcats didn’t help their cause, either, dropping a doubleheader to the Westhampton Aviators earlier in the day.

Regardless, Caden said the Tomcats had a fulfilling season. (more…)

07/26/14 9:38pm
07/26/2014 9:38 PM

TOMCATS 4, OSPREYS 1

Welcome to the league where parity is king.

This captivating horse race of a Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League regular season went down to the wire. With the top six teams running neck and neck in the standings, and a razor-blade thin difference between each of them, the scenario on Saturday was quite remarkable before teams played their 40th games of the 40-game season. All four playoff spots had finally been secured, but there was — get this — a four-way tie for first place.

How about that? (more…)

06/19/14 8:41pm
06/19/2014 8:41 PM
Riverhead Tomcats shortstop Danny Mendick fields a grounder in Game 2 of a doubleheader against Southampton Thursday. Mendick drove in six runs in the two games. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)

Riverhead Tomcats shortstop Danny Mendick fields a grounder in Game 2 of a doubleheader against Southampton Thursday. Mendick drove in six runs in the two games. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)

As the fifth-year manager of the Riverhead Tomcats, Randy Caden is already one of the elder statesman in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.

“I love it,” Caden said. “Coaching at Farmingdale and then coming here, it’s a different type of athlete. It’s baseball, and when you’re playing good baseball, it’s enjoyable.”  (more…)

07/30/13 8:00pm
07/30/2013 8:00 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Jake Farr completed the season with a .310 batting average, tying him with Riverhead teammate Michael Brosseau for seventh in the league.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Jake Farr completed the season with a .310 batting average, tying him with Riverhead teammate Michael Brosseau for seventh in the league.

Jake Farr is the type of baseball player that Teddy Roosevelt would have appreciated. He speaks softly and carries a big stick.

It wasn’t a surprise that Farr hit over .300 this summer for the Riverhead Tomcats. That was to be expected of the good-hitting second baseman from Strawberry Plains, Tenn. What wasn’t expected, however, was the slow start Farr made to the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League season.

“I didn’t get a hit like the first four or five games,” he said. “I was like 0 for 10 or something. Crazy.”

Tomcats manager Randy Caden noticed some things in Farr’s swing and worked with him for a couple of days at Caden’s Long Island Mariners Sports Facility in Bohemia. Farr said he began putting more weight on his front toe and that led to him feeling more balanced at the plate. It also helps that Farr, who throws right-handed but bats left-handed, is proficient at hitting to the opposite field.

The results speak for themselves. Farr finished the season with a .310 batting average, tying him with teammate Michael Brosseau for seventh in the league, which uses wood bats. He also drove in 18 runs, scored 25 runs, walked 21 times and stole three bases.

This was the first time Farr had played extensively with wood bats. Like many college players, he was swinging aluminum in his recent freshman season for Walters State Community College (Tenn.). Using wood to find hits is more difficult.

“The sweet spot’s a lot smaller with the wood,” Farr said. “I like it. At first I was a little bit intimidated because I didn’t know how I was going to do with it, but now, you know, it feels right. It makes you feel a lot better when you get a hit with a wood bat.”

Farr found that sweet spot often enough to help the Tomcats’ offense.

“He’s a tough out, good eye, and he’s been able to make contact with good pitchers, keep us in games,” said Caden.

Farr said hitting is his strength. In high school he was an all-state player in 2012 with an extraordinary .498 batting average. He led the state with 24 doubles.

Confidence is a big thing for a batter, and Farr should have no shortage of it after the way he performed against some tough pitchers in the HCBL.

“I’ve been really focusing on my timing a lot,” he said. “A lot of it is confidence. If you’re feeling good, you can hit them off the end and drop them in and stuff. When you’re feeling bad, man, it seems like nothing drops in.”

That confidence could come in handy for Farr, who wants to go far in baseball. He has one more year to go at Walters State. He hopes to receive an offer to play for an NCAA Division I school and be drafted by a major league club. His numbers should help draw the attention of some Division I teams.

“They always look for offense,” said Caden.

As a defensive player, Farr had to become accustomed to charging slow rollers off wood bats, something college players don’t have to worry about too often with aluminum bats.

“That’s the big adjustment for a lot of these guys,” Caden said. “I would say he’s an average second baseman. He’s not bad, but he’s average.”

Caden raved about Farr as a person.

“Great kid, a great team ballplayer,” the manager said. “I think he’s said seven words the whole year, that’s just cheering for his team. [He] works hard. A coach wants this type of kid on a team.”

Having grown up outside of Knoxville, Tenn., in a state that doesn’t have beaches, Farr took the opportunity this summer to visit Long Island beaches in his free time.

“I’ve had a great time,” he said. “Too bad we didn’t make the playoffs, though. I was hoping to stay a little bit longer.”

bliepa@timesreview.com