When the opportunity presented itself, Pat Stepnoski made the most of it.
The Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School baseball team’s cleanup hitter had been intentionally walked twice the day before. This time, though, with the bases loaded in the top of the first inning, the Greenport Porters had no place to put Stepnoski. That meant they had to pitch to him, and he made them pay.
Stepnoski sliced a drive to right field for a single that brought in the game’s first run. It was the 100th hit of Stepnoski’s four-year varsity career and it sent the Monarchs on the way to a 21-2 thumping of the undermanned Porters on Friday at Greenport High School.
After pulling out one-run wins in the first two games of the Suffolk County League VIII series (the opener being a rare double no-hitter thrown by Stepnoski and Greenport’s Shaun Hansen), McGann-Mercy turned its offense on full blast Friday for the sweep.
So much went right for the Monarchs, who churned out 19 hits for their fifth win in six games and fourth in a row. Stepnoski got his 100th career hit (and then his 101st later in that same inning). Keith Schroeher went 4 for 5 and drove in five runs. Christian Lynch knocked in another four runs. Rocco Pascale blasted his third home run of the season.
Ten Monarchs had at least one hit and six had two or more.
“We’ve been putting up runs, but our big guys haven’t been hitting at the same time,” McGann-Mercy Coach Ed Meier said. “Today was the first day I’d say our lineup clicked, one through nine, and when it does, we’re dangerous.”
Few batters are as dangerous as Stepnoski. The junior center fielder had been alerted by Meier that he was on the verge of his 100th career hit. His 99th hit was a single Thursday in a 5-4 win. When he stepped into the batter’s box with the bases full on Friday, he must have known he would get a pitch to hit.
“It was cool,” he said.
Meier called it “a great achievement to achieve in your junior year. That’s pretty special, with a lot of baseball left to be played.”
What might have been easy to overlook amid all this offense was the pitching of Joe Crosser, who hurled a four-hitter, striking out 11 and walking four. He threw 110 pitches as he evened his record at 1-1. Crosser, by the way, had three hits himself.
In a sense, it was the perfect storm. Not only was McGann-Mercy, the defending Suffolk Class C champion, in town, but Greenport was missing almost half of its regular starting lineup. From Greenport’s point of view, it was bad timing, really bad timing. The Porters were missing four regular starters who were away on school trips, and it made a difference.
Greenport Coach Mike Reed brought two players, Austin Hooks and Christian Davis, up from the junior varsity team, and a sophomore, Bryant Rivas, made his varsity pitching debut.
With the lack of experience, the potential for trouble was there.
“This was ugly with a big ‘U’ italicized,” Reed said. “You can’t get upset because you know what you’re working with. You know your limitations.”
Through seven games, the Porters are still awaiting their first win. Friday’s game aside, though, they have been competitive.
“We just can’t get the extra run,” said Greenport shortstop Mark Pagano, who had two hits and stole two bases. “We’re right there, though. We have to be more consistent hitting-wise.”
McGann-Mercy blew the game open in the top of the first inning when it scored 11 runs on eight hits. The Monarchs made 14 plate appearances that inning, making it look like batting practice.
“When you’re hitting stuff like that, it’s a lot of fun, getting rallies like that,” said Schroeher.
The rout might not have made for enthralling baseball, but at least the Monarchs could take pleasure in it.
“It was nice,” Stepnoski said. “Everyone was hitting, everyone was going. It was a good sign.”