Baseball: Dropped third strike hurts Tomcats against Whalers

The intangible of “finding ways to win” isn’t lost on the Sag Harbor Whalers. They’ve been doing it for a week straight and it has resulted in a meteoric climb up the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League’s Hampton Division standings.

As if a division-best earned run average and fielding percentage wasn’t enough, the Whalers got a little luck on Tuesday. Kevin Herlihy struck out but reached base on a dropped third strike. Not only that, Herlihy tore around the bases thanks to the catcher’s overthrow as well as an errant relay throw, giving Sag Harbor a stunning 3-2 victory over the Riverhead Tomcats.

The win was the Whalers’ third straight by one run and fifth in a row overall. They committed zero errors in four of those contests, and the pitching staff has yielded just six runs during that stretch.

Herlihy waved at a pitch by the Tomcats’ Casey Smith, but the ball squirted away from catcher Frank Schwindel. His throw to first sailed into foul territory, well down the right-field line. Herlihy never let up and took off for third on the delayed throw into the infield. The relay to third was off, and Herlihy was awarded home as the ball went out of play.

The teams traded runs in the first. Riverhead plated a run on a groundout by Schwindel, and Sag Harbor answered when Nate LaPointe singled in Charlie Curl.

Sag Harbor took advantage of another Tomcats mishap, which scored Josy Espinal, but Schwindel delivered again, doubling to right center to bring in Eric Romano.

Each starting pitcher was effective. Riverhead’s Nick Albero gave up two runs over five innings. Sag Harbor’s Ed Macaluso surrendered two over six innings. Once again, the Whalers bullpen shined. This time, it was righty John Antonelli, who tossed three shutout innings to earn the win in relief. He has thrown 12 2/3 innings without allowing a run.