The Riverhead Tomcats just may be baseball’s version of even-Steven. Whatever their win-loss record may be on a given day, you can be sure of one thing: it will not be far from .500.
Win one, lose one. Lose one, win one. Somehow, the Tomcats have a knack for hovering around that .500 mark. With their 5-1 defeat of the visiting Sag Harbor Whalers on Friday, the second-place Tomcats brought their record back to .500 again at 15-15 in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League’s Hampton Division.
“We’re back at .500,” said Rob Maccone, the assistant coach who oversaw the Tomcats in the absence of Manager Randy Caden, who was at a wedding. “That’s all we do. One game over, one game under, even. But we’re playing good baseball.”
While Caden was attending a wedding, Maccone had a wedding of his own to go to the following day: his own. He was to marry Lisa Percoco. Maccone said he was excited, not nervous.
Following the game, though, Maccone was soaking wet after catcher Mike Lonsdale dumped a bucket of water over him while he was being interviewed.
Chris Pabisch picked up his first win in three decisions. The left-handed pitcher from Adelphi University lasted seven innings before being relieved by Chris Taylor. The Riverhead starter gave up four hits, four walks and struck out two. One of those hits was a solo home run by Kevin Grove that made it 1-0 in the fourth inning.
“Pabisch did a really good job,” Lonsdale said. “I think he made one mistake the whole game, which was the home run, but besides that I think he pitched phenomenally.”
Taylor didn’t do too badly himself, hurling two innings of hitless relief with two strikeouts.
A long ball put Sag Harbor ahead, but small ball initiated Riverhead’s comeback in the fifth. Lonsdale led off with a well-placed bunt single that pitcher Tom Cardona tried unsuccessfully to barehand. Lonsdale was moved forward on a sacrifice bunt by Cody Slaughter, starting a rally that featured four walks issued by Cardona. One of those walks, by Stephen Oswald, came with the bases loaded, making it 3-1.
Lonsdale stole third base and then scored on an errant throw from a pickoff play, tying the score at 1-1. Eric Romano later knocked in the go-ahead run with a single to center field.
Sag Harbor was fortunate to avoid further damage, turning a 6-4-3 double play with the bases loaded to end the inning.
It was yet another walk, this one of the leadoff variety, that led to Riverhead’s fourth run in the sixth. David Hall (two runs, two stolen bases) drew a base on balls, stole second base and went to third on a groundout before Slaughter singled him home for a 4-1 lead.
The Tomcats tacked on an insurance run in the eighth. Hall followed up his ground-rule double to right field by stealing third and then charging home on a fielder’s choice, beating shortstop Calvin Sigelbaum’s throw.
Sag Harbor made the first move in the game. Grove liked an offering he saw from Pabisch in the fourth and drilled the ball over the left-field fence for his fifth home run of the season.
“They have a good team,” Grove said of the Tomcats. Of the four teams behind the first-place North Fork Ospreys, he said, the Tomcats “put out the most consistent effort.”
With Friday’s result, the Tomcats were sitting at .500 for the ninth time this season. The Tomcats haven’t been more than two games away from that mark since June 23, when a 4-3 win over the Southampton Breakers made them 7-9.
“We’ve pretty much been there the whole time,” Pabisch said. “We need to start winning some games.”
While .500 may not be an exciting number, it was good enough for second place. Aside from the Ospreys, who were 22-8 at the end of the day, the competition among the division’s four other teams was tight. The Tomcats, the Westhampton Aviators, the Whalers and the Breakers were within four wins of each other.
“Everybody is right there, which is good, which is what you want,” said Whalers Manager Jim Buckley.
Numbers aside, Pabisch doesn’t consider the Tomcats to be merely a .500 team.
“We’re definitely not a .500 team,” he said. “We’ve just been inconsistent. As long as we make the playoffs, this team can definitely do it. We can take on any team. We definitely have the talent on the team to do it.”