Baseball: Tomcats fall short in opener in their new home

Riverhead shortstop Danny Mendick fielding a ground ball for an out during the Tomcats' 10-9 season-opening loss to Montauk. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)
Riverhead shortstop Danny Mendick fielding a ground ball for an out during the Tomcats’ 10-9 season-opening loss to Montauk. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)


The weather was ideal and the scene was idyllic for the Riverhead Tomcats’ Opening Day.

With the sun shining brilliantly, both the Montauk Mustangs and the Tomcats lined up before their Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League game and stood at attention while Erin Southard, a Riverhead High School freshman, sang the national anthem. Everything and everybody was ready for the game, that is, except the sound system and the Tomcats.

The speaker inexplicably failed and the Tomcats got off to a rough start, falling behind by 10-1 to the first-year Montauk team. Like the speaker, which was soon restored to service, the Tomcats made something of a comeback, too. It was enough to make things interesting but not enough to avoid a 10-9 loss on Monday at their new home, Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton.

The first ever win by the Mustangs (1-1), the league’s newest addition, went to Sean Meekins, a right-hander from Trinity College (Conn.). Meekins gave up one hit and one unearned run in the five innings he pitched. At the time of his exit, the Mustangs were holding a seemingly safe 10-1 lead.

Patrick Madigan and Alec Hoeschel both drove in three of those runs apiece, and Victor Sorrento added a pair of runs batted in.

But the Tomcats put up four runs in each of the last two innings to mount a threat. They had a runner on first base and the potential go-ahead run at the plate when reliever Adam Spracklin recorded the game-ending strikeout.

The Tomcats had committed four errors and delivered no hits before Mike Donadio (3 for 4, two runs, walk) led off the bottom of the fourth inning by shooting a single.

In the eighth inning alone, the Tomcats banged out five hits — singles by Ben Hart, Danny Mendick and Mike Donadio, a two-run double by Dan Popio and a run-scoring double by Colton Rice, cutting Montauk’s lead to 10-5. A sacrifice fly by Forrest Bramlett brought in a run, too.

The Tomcats followed that with three hits in the ninth, including a lined two-run single by Bramlett past the diving shortstop and a two-run infield single by Donato Signore that made it a one-run game.

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