As the fifth-year manager of the Riverhead Tomcats, Randy Caden is already one of the elder statesman in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.
“I love it,” Caden said. “Coaching at Farmingdale and then coming here, it’s a different type of athlete. It’s baseball, and when you’re playing good baseball, it’s enjoyable.”
There’s been plenty of good baseball to start the summer league for the Tomcats this year. After sweeping a doubleheader against Southampton Thursday afternoon, the Tomcats improved to 9-4, keeping them atop the standings in the seven-team league.
The Tomcats won 11-3 in the first game and 7-3 in the second.
“We have a very good balanced club — hitting, pitching, defense,” Caden said. “So it’s very easy to coach.”
It took only a few games into the season for Caden to get a handle on what his players could do, he said.
“We have a lot of versatility, so we can move guys around,” he said.
In the second game of the doubleheader at Veterans Memorial Park, the Tomcats scored two in the fourth and two in the sixth to pull away. Danny Mendick (UMass-Lowell) went 3 for 4 in the leadoff spot with 3 RBIs. He doubled in both fourth-inning runs with a liner down the left field line. He singled home another run in the sixth.
The Tomcats got three superb innings of relief from Tim Duggan (Fairfield). The Norwood, Mass. native did give up a hit in his appearance and walked one. Duggan has posted a 2.70 ERA so far this season.
He came in relief of Matt Weissheier (Hofstra), who went 4 innings, giving up 3 runs on 8 hits. Weissheier was the winning pitcher.
At this point in the season, Caden said he limits his pitchers to 80 pitches. Weissheier hit 82 pitches right after four innings.
The Tomcats erupted early in the first game against Southampton. A seven-run third innings put Riverhead ahead 10-1.
Corbin Burnes (St. Mary’s) pitched five innings to earn the win. He gave up 2 runs (1 earned) and struck out three. Ian Barwick, Burnes’ collegiate teammate, pitched the final two innings, giving up one run. Burnes and Barwick are both California natives.
Mendick had 3 RBIs in the first game as well. Cole Fabio (Bryant) and Andrew Plunkett (Tennessee) both added 2 RBIs. Fabio hit a two-run home run in the third inning.
The Tomcats return to action Friday against Shelter Island at home. They’ll host Montauk Saturday before a two-day break.