2011 Top Sports Story No. 3: SWR baseball, lax teams win county titles

ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | The Shoreham-Wading River boys lacrosse team storms the field after winning the Class B county championship in June.

The slogan for the Shoreham-Wading River boys lacrosse team in 2011 centered around “the wait for eight.” That referred to the team’s eighth county championship. After winning seven straight, their last in 2007, the Wildcats entered 2011 in a three-year drought.

That came to an end June 1 when the Wildcats, seeded No. 2 in the Class B playoffs, won 13-8 against Huntington for the elusive eighth county championship.

“The wait for eight is over,” coach Tom Rotanz said afterward.

The seniors for Shoreham grew up in the shadow of the program’s championship run. For the players who joined the varsity as freshmen, they had yet to experience the thrill of winning a championship.

“I just wanted to get the feeling that those guys got,” said Mike Malave said after the win over Huntington.

For the Shoreham baseball team, the wait for a county title extended even longer. It had been since 2000 when the Wildcats last claimed the throne as the top team in Suffolk.

Entering the 2011 season with a veteran group that features several players who had signed with college programs, the Wildcats knew they had the talent to end their county title drought.

After an outstanding regular season, the Wildcats nearly got picked off in the first round of the playoffs against the seventh seed, Bayport-Blue Point. The Wildcats trailed by three in the bottom of the seventh before rallying for four runs.

In the county finals the Wildcats faced Sayville in a game that featured no shortage of drama. Mike O’Reilly opened the game with five perfect innings for the Wildcats, only to see his team’s lead slip away. The game went to extra innings when Sayville took a two-run lead in the eighth. But the Wildcats came back again to tie it. Then in the ninth inning Ryan McAlary hit a sacrifice fly to win the game and the county title.