Baseball: North Babylon uses five-run first to beat Riverhead

JOHN NEELY PHOTO | Riverhead's Jesse Patriss swings at the pitch against North Babylon Tuesday morning.


Senior first baseman Joe Stramm slammed a pair of home runs to help key North Babylon’s 12-6 win over visiting Riverhead in a baseball game on Tuesday morning.

Blue Waves coach Rob Maccone certainly could live with that.

What he could not accept was the free passes that the Bulldogs got, which helped the hosts grab a 5-0 first-inning lead in the Suffolk County League IV contest.

“Got to throw strikes, got to make them hit it,” he said. “I know this park is small. Still, let them hit it. That kid who hit two home runs, good for him. At least we let him hit it. You can’t get him out if you walk him.”

Coupled with 12 runners they left on base, the Blue Waves (3-3, 3-3) could never recover and get back into the game against the Bulldogs (1-5, 1-5).

“We left too many guys on base,” Maccone said. “We hit the ball decently. We left the bases loaded once, second and third once, and first and third in the seventh. You can’t win when you leave guys on base.”

Center fielder Matt Crohan, who turned out to be one of Riverhead’s bright spots — he was on base five times on three hits, a walk and a forceout, and scored twice — agreed.

“We’ve got to throw strikes,” he said. “If we throw strikes, we can field.

“Things just didn’t go our way today. We just got to hit the ball, put the ball in play. If we put the ball in play, kids will make mistakes. We’re all high school kids. Things happen.”

Things happened for North Babylon as the first inning set the game’s tone.

Crohan, who was left on base three times, was stranded at second in the top of the frame.

In the bottom of the inning, Mike Hinchy hit leadoff hitter Kenny Fils-Aime, who reached second base when catcher Kyle Trypuc’s pick-off attempt sailed over first baseman Tyler Carroll. Charlie O’Neill was hit by a pitch and Dan Gambardella loaded the bases on an infield single. Winning pitcher Carmine Vricciariella was hit by a pitch to force in the first run. Stramm’s sacrifice fly drove in another, followed by Tyler Schmitt’s run-scoring double and Mike Amandola’s two-run single.

“We didn’t pitch today,” Maccone said. “Mike Hinchy has been very good for us. He had a long layover. When you play five games in five days and you do the second game of the season, he couldn’t come back for the fifth game. So he hasn’t thrown over a week and a half. That’s tough for him.”

On the flip side, North Babylon coach Steve Corrado was delighted that his team showed some patience. “You know what? They were a little more selective in what they were swinging at today,” he said. “They didn’t chase any bad balls.”

The Blue Waves scored only once in the next inning — on third baseman John Wendt’s single — as the visitors left the bases loaded in the second inning.

“When you’re struggling and things are going wrong and one bad thing happens, it seems to pile on,” Corrado said. “When you have a positive inning and you come back and get out of the next inning with a lead, it just helps build up positive feelings.”

Stramm delivered his lethal blows in back-to-back innings. He clubbed a solo shot to right-center field to extend the lead to 6-1 in the third and clobbered a three-run shot to left for a commanding 10-1 advantage in the fourth.

Corrado, who inherited an inexperienced team that did not return one starter, admitted he was learning what each player can bring to the team.

“We only have 25 at-bats of experience coming back, so we’re all learning each other,” he said. “[Stramm] supposedly is one of our big hitters and he showed today why he is.”

Corrado, in his first season with the team, was happy to put one in the win column.

“It feels good because the kids are working really hard,” he said. “When you win, it feels like the hard work is paying off.”

The Blue Waves will get two more shots at the Bulldogs. They will host them today before completing the three-game series at West Babylon on Friday.

“We’re just going to come out and hopefully win the series,” Crohan said. “That’s what our goal is: one game at a time, get 11 wins and make the playoffs.”