Baseball: Tomcats win the hard way, after blowing 6-run lead

Riverhead's Dan Popio slides in safely at second base while Sag Harbor second baseman Ted Shaw covers the bag. (Credit: Garret Meade)
Riverhead’s Dan Popio slides in safely at second base while Sag Harbor second baseman Ted Shaw covers the bag. (Credit: Garret Meade)


The Riverhead Tomcats have had their share of offensive heroes this season. Cole Fabio was one of them on Friday evening.

The Tomcats did things the hard way, blowing a six-run lead. Having conceded five runs to the Sag Harbor Whalers in the ninth inning, the Tomcats pulled out a tense 9-8 triumph on Fabio’s walk-off single in the 10th at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton.

Ben Hart had led off with a single and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Danny Mendick, bringing the winning run 90 feet from home plate. Fabio then came through, slamming the ball past third baseman Zach Piazza and into left field, ending the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League game. He was chased around the infield by happy teammates.

The Tomcats are 5-2 against Sag Harbor. Both teams are 18-16 and among the top six teams in the league that were within three games of each other before Friday’s action.

Mike Donadio was another hero for the Tomcats, bumping up his league-leading batting average from .388 to .411 with a 4-for-4 day. He was intentionally walked once and was on deck when Fabio was at the plate in the 10th.

It looked like it was going to be smooth sailing for the Tomcats when they struck for five runs in the seventh. After reliever Chris Hall gave Donadio a free pass to first base rather than take a chance pitching to him, the other Tomcats made him pay. They came through with five straight run-producing at-bats: singles by Mark Donadio (Mike’s brother) and Donato Signore, a groundout by Colton Rice, a single by Hunter Dolshun and a double by Andrew Plunkett.

That left the Tomcats sitting pretty with what they may have thought was a comfortable 8-2 lead.

But Sag Harbor clipped a run off that lead in the eighth on a single by Joe Gellenbeck, who had three hits and three runs batted in.

It was the following inning, however, when the Whalers did most of their damage. Corbin Burnes, who did a nice job in relief of Tim Duggan, retiring eight straight batters during one stretch, appeared to tire and the Whalers got to him.

Dan Rizzie started the rally by singling in his third run of the game. A sacrifice fly by Scott Hagan was followed by Piazza’s RBI double and Gellenbeck’s two-run double, which tied the score at 8-8.

The Tomcats outhit the Whalers, 16-8.

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