Baseball: Five-run fourth inning propels Riverhead to win

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Riverhead second baseman Nick Prete tags out Hills West catcher Matt Cabezon after he tried to take second on a throw home from the outfield.

As the first base umpire punched his fist to signal an out, momentarily ending the fourth inning and erasing a Riverhead run, Blue Waves coach Rob Maccone darted through the dugout, brushed past a photographer to get through a gate and sprinted toward the mound to argue.

“That’s the fastest I’ve ever seen Maccone run in my life,” one player quipped from the dugout.

Maccone had good reason to be upset after catcher Kyle Trypuc was called out at first base, even though the foot of Hills West first baseman Jonah Glickstein came off the base as he caught the throw from the pitcher Sal Lovaglio after a ground ball. As the Hills West fielders jogged off the field thinking the inning had ended, Maccone vehemently requested the umpire at least consult with the home plate umpire, which he did.

Trypuc was safe.

Given new life, the Blue Waves turned it into a five-run inning and to propel themselves to a 7-2 win, evening their League IV record at 2-2.

“I guess I got a little excited coming off the bench,” Maccone said after the game. “He talked to the home plate umpire, that’s all I could ask. I wasn’t challenging his decision, I just asked if he could ask for help because he has a better angle.”

The bases were loaded on the play, which forced the one umpire in the field to position himself behind the mound. It made for a difficult angle to tell whether the first baseman’s foot stayed on the base. Tyler Carroll scored on the play, which allowed the Blue Waves to take a 3-1 lead and continue batting.

“It was nice that they got the call right,” Maccone said.

It proved to be the turning point of the game. The first pitch from Lovaglio after the inning restarted resulted in a two-run double by second baseman Nick Prete down the left field line.

Just like that a 2-1 game became a 5-1 game.

“Nicky hit a double and that was huge,” Maccone said.

With the Blue Waves leading by four, junior Joe Napoli took care of the rest for the Blue Waves.

Napoli threw a complete game, giving up five hits while striking out four. After the Blue Waves played Wednesday-Friday last week, they needed an extra pitcher to make a start. So they turned to Napoli, who typically pitches out of the bullpen.

Maccone said going into the game, he told Napoli to give them however many innings he could, even if it was three or four.

“I said we’ll go to the pen and we’ll be fine,” Maccone said.

Napoli never needed help.

He gave up one run in the first and another in the sixth after issuing a two-out walk. Napoli didn’t allow any extra base hits.

“He was hitting his spots with his fastball,” Maccone said. “He threw a couple curve balls, he got some leaning on a few change-ups, but he threw mostly fastballs.”

The Colts feature a Division I prospect at the top of the lineup in shortstop Luke Stampfl. He was responsible for two of the Colts’ hits and one of their runs. After him, though, the Blue Waves knew they were facing a lineup that didn’t necessarily feature a lot of pop.

Maccone said the strategy was to challenge hitters and let them put the ball in play. When the Colts did, the Blue Waves were there to make the plays in the field. They played much crisper in the field, which proved to be a big difference. Ten of Hills West’s outs came on ground balls to the infield.

The Blue Waves added a run in the fifth inning on a single by Joe Prete to bring home Matt Crohan. Connor Carroll led off the sixth with a double. He advanced to third on a ground out and then scored on a failed pickoff attempt by the Hills West catcher.

Maccone said the fourth inning has been the turning point in games so far.

“I think the kids are not used to the pitcher,” he said. “They’re not getting good reads their first at-bat. Then the second at-bat the kind of know what’s going on.”

The Blue Waves return to action Tuesday at Copiague for their fifth game in seven days. From there they’ll have a week off before beginning the traditional three-game series with each team in the league.

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