07/27/13 8:08pm
07/27/2013 8:08 PM

AVIATORS 6, TOMCATS 4

Consider the meaning of  “meaningless,” as in “meaningless game.”

What would happen if two baseball teams were assembled to play a meaningless game? Well, for one thing, a debate about the terminology might ensue, and one could conclude that “meaningless” is in the eye of the beholder.

While some observers may have attached little to no importance to the Riverhead Tomcats-Westhampton Aviators game on Saturday, it didn’t appear that any players or managers were among them. Because the game didn’t have any affect on the Hampton Collegiate Baseball League’s final standings or the playoffs, some may have regarded the final regular-season game between the two teams as meaningless, but “meaningless” is apparently not in the vocabulary of either club.

Although there was a light mood surrounding the contest, neither side played as if it was meaningless. The Aviators produced a meaningful five-run burst in the seventh inning and walked away with a 6-4 win at Aviator Field in Westhampton. The rally featured a leadoff home run by Joey Havrilak and a two-run, pinch-hit single by Dan Parisi.

“I don’t think the game was meaningless,” John Melville, the Tomcats’ starting pitcher, said. “Like I said, you’re out here just trying to make yourself better. Guys are getting at-bats, guys are getting innings. You play the game to win.”

By virtue of their 4-2 loss to the Sag Harbor Whalers on the same field earlier in the day, the Aviators (24-16) were locked into second place. The Whalers clinched first place with that win, leaving them with a 24-15 record heading into their final regular-season game Saturday night against the North Fork Ospreys.

Earlier in the day in Riverhead, the Tomcats had dropped a 4-3 loss to the playoff-bound Ospreys. A win by the Center Moriches Battlecats the night before had already eliminated the Tomcats (18-22) from playoff contention, though. (Ironically, it was a loss by the Battlecats in their final regular-season game last year that brought the Tomcats a playoff spot.) That took an awful lot of meaning out of Riverhead’s final two games on Saturday.

Regardless, Tomcats Randy Caden dismissed the notion of that meaningless thing. “The kids that come here, they’re competitive,” he said. “There’s no meaningless game.”

The 2013 season had started so promisingly for the Tomcats, who can pinpoint their downfall. After starting the season with a 13-8 record, they lost two of possibly their best players, catcher Charley Gould and shortstop Mike Brosseau, to injuries. The impact was immediate. With those two players out, the Tomcats dropped 13 of their next 15 games.

Ouch!

“Other teams got hot at the right time,” Caden said. “There were a lot of games that we should have won but didn’t, but that’s life, that’s baseball.”

And so the Tomcats finished in fifth place while the top four teams in the seven-team league move on to the postseason.

“It was the end of a short but long season, I guess,” Tomcats center fielder Jack Sundberg said. “It’s always sad, the last game, a lot of good guys on the team, but I guess it’s got to come to an end sometime.”

Against the Aviators, the Tomcats received three hits from their leadoff hitter, Sundberg, and a two-run homer by Jason Gordon. But it wasn’t enough as the Aviators cranked out 12 hits, including two apiece by J. C. Brandmaier, Mitch Montaldo and Brian Lee.

Both starting pitchers did well. Each gave up one run over five innings. Melville was touched for five hits and one walk, with no strikeouts. Westhampton’s starter, Nick Garcia, allowed three hits. He did not issue a walk and struck out three.

“It wasn’t any different really,” Melville said of his final outing of the summer. “It was another game, I guess.”
Another “meaningless game”?

The participants might take issue with that characterization. Whenever they are wearing uniforms, the score is being kept and statistics are being recorded, they are inclined to compete. That’s their nature.

After the game, Caden was still coming to grips with the finality of a season that had just ended.

“It goes by real quick,” he said. “I don’t believe it’s over already.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

07/23/11 12:29pm
07/23/2011 12:29 PM

The Westhampton Aviators slugged four home runs in an 11-6 defeat of the visiting Riverhead Tomcats in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League on Friday. Joe Candela (four runs batted in), Aaron Cohn (3 for 4, two runs, two RBI), Kevin Heller (two RBI) and Brian Guymon (2 for 4, three runs) all went deep for the Aviators (20-17), according to www.hamptons baseball.org.

Adam Michel (two RBI) and Alex Gouin homered for the Tomcats (15-21). Another Riverhead player, Frank Schwindel, went 3 for 5, with a double and two RBI.

The Aviators took a 7-1 lead by the third inning and were in front, 11-1, in the sixth.

07/14/11 11:49am
07/14/2011 11:49 AM

The Westhampton Aviators scored in six of the nine innings and won a high-scoring Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League affair over the host Riverhead Tomcats, 12-8, on Wednesday. Aaron Cohn drove in four runs and homered for the Aviators (18-12), who received three hits apiece from Ray Ortega (two runs batted in) and Mike Ahmed. Ahmed scored twice, tripled and knocked in a run.

The Aviators used eight pitchers, none of whom lasted longer than two and one-third innings.

Keith Herring (one RBI) and Adam Michel had two hits each for the Tomcats (11-18).

07/06/11 11:20am
07/06/2011 11:20 AM

The Westhampton Aviators took down the Riverhead Tomcats twice — hard each time — in an Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League doubleheader at the Hite Athletic Complex in Westhampton on Tuesday.

The first-place Aviators (14-11) took a one-game lead over the North Fork Ospreys in the Hampton Division by virtue of their 10-1 and 16-1 wins, which were facilitated by eight home runs.

Aaron Cohn, Kevin Heller, Nick Camastro (3 for 4, three runs, three runs batted in, stolen base) and Joe Candela (two RBI) slugged home runs and Mike Rosenfeld went 2 for 2 and knocked in two runs in the first game.

In the nightcap, the Aviators scored 16 runs on 16 hits, including round-trippers by Heller (2 for 4, three RBI), Matt De Renzi (2 for 2, three RBI), Jordan Patterson (3 for 3, four RBI, two runs) and Candela. The Tomcats (10-13) managed only three hits.

07/03/11 1:19pm
07/03/2011 1:19 PM

Frank Schwindel and Patrick Jones both homered for the Riverhead Tomcats in a 2-0 win over the Westhampton Aviators on Saturday, splitting an Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League doubleheader in Riverhead. Eric Romano added two singles to the victory.

David Gibson pitched five and two-thirds innings for the Tomcats (9-11), giving up two hits and no runs. He walked one and struck out four.

The Aviators (12-10), who had moved into first place in the Hampton Division, received their three hits from Kyle Lombardo, Mike Ahmed and Mike Rosenfeld.

In the first game, a 3-1 Westhampton victory, Ryan Doran fired nine strikeouts over five and two-thirds innings, Steven Roche worked two-thirds of an inning to pick up the win, and Brandon Kuter registered a two-out save. Doran allowed one earned run and four hits.

Jones had two hits, one of them a double, and Schwindel walked twice and had a run batted in for the Tomcats.

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.”

bliepa@timesreview.com