Baseball: One bad inning proves costly for Riverhead

Riverhead third baseman Kenny Simco fields a ground ball on a frigid afternoon Tuesday in the Blue Waves’ season opener. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)


By the middle of the fourth inning Tuesday, the music that accompanied brief intermissions between innings and at-bats ceased. On a wintry day in Riverhead, the festive vibes of opening day had already been swept away by that point.

A six-run third inning by Kings Park was enough to put a damper on the Blue Waves’ non-league opener. Kings Park scored the game’s first 11 runs and cruised to an 11-4 victory. 

In some respects, both teams were beginning the season with a similar goal in mind to use the early season non-league games to develop their pitching staffs.

Kings Park coach said Mike Luzim said his team doesn’t feature a true ace, but has several capable No. 2 or 3 quality pitchers. Senior Thomas Bonelli, the most veteran of the group, got the start in the opener and kept the Blue Waves’ bats at bay for 5 1/3 innings. Bonelli gave up 3 runs, all of which came in the sixth inning as he started losing steam.

The Blue Waves won’t be rolling out a dominant No. 1 type pitcher, either, this year, but will rely on the staff as a whole to provide quality innings over the course of the season.

Josh Brewster got the start against Kings Park and appeared to be cruising early in the game. But after retiring the first two batters of the third inning, an error allowed Kings Park to keep the inning alive. And the Kingsmen jumped at the opportunity.

The next batter after the error, senior Zach Garick, hit a line-drive home run to left field to put the Kingsmen ahead 2-0. And it only got worse from there as four more runs came around to score before the Blue Waves could secure a third out.

“Two outs, no one on base and they put up six,” said Riverhead coach Rob Maccone. “Defensively we got to make those plays. But they hit those balls hard after that. Don’t take anything away from them. They hit those balls hard.”

All six runs in the third inning were unearned. Brewster threw four innings, giving up 8 runs (2 earned) before handing the ball off to Bobby Dilworth.

Dilworth pitched the final three innings and gave up 3 runs.

“We really don’t have a set rotation,” Maccone said. “[Dilworth’s] a guy that’s going to get innings. We have a bunch of guys that are going to get innings. Thursday, we’ll roll out two or three more.”

Kings Park junior Ryan Votypka pitched 1 2/3 innings to close out the game. Luzim said Votypka is in the running for a rotation spot.

Riverhead had a few chances early in the game to strike first and possibly seize the momentum of the game. But in the first and second innings the Blue Waves had runners thrown out on the base paths, halting any rally.

“It’s a different ball game up 1-0 than down 1-0,” Maccone said. “We had that chance in the first inning and we didn’t get it done.”

The Blue Waves finally broke through in the sixth inning. Catcher Cody Smith reached on a fielder’s choice to drive in Nick Stimpfel for the first run. Brian Brenton drove in a run on another fielder’s choice and a second run came around to score on an error.

In the seventh, Joe Hart pinch hit with two runners on and hit a hard ball at the shortstop that took a brutal hop and bounced into the outfield allowing Dilworth to score.

A positive for the Blue Waves’ pitchers: they didn’t give up any walks.

“We did a good job of that today,” Maccone said. “But then on the flip side, maybe we left a little too many pitches in the happy zone.”

Riverhead second baseman Cody Weiss went 2-for-3 at the plate and was the only Blue Wave with multiple hits.

Riverhead will play four more non-league games before the league season begins. And they’ll be against competitive teams, startin Thursday at home against Eastport-South Manor.

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