Baseball: League-leading Hills West rallies late to defeat Riverhead

Riverhead pitcher John Wendt threw six innings against Half Hollow Hills West Tuesday, giving up four runs. (Credit: Robert O'Rourk)
Riverhead pitcher John Wendt threw six innings against Half Hollow Hills West Tuesday, giving up five runs. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)


As the ball skipped over the glove of Half Hollow Hills West first baseman Jon Faraci, the Riverhead fans along the third base line erupted. For a brief second, it appeared the ball off the bat of Riverhead’s Cody Dilworth was destined for right field.

A runner on third raced toward home plate with a teammate trailing right behind. 

But an unfortunate hop for Hills West wasn’t enough to derail a come-from-behind victory. The Colts second baseman, alertly backing up the play, found himself in perfect position to field the ground ball in the bottom of the seventh inning after it skipped past Faraci. He smoothly fielded the ball and threw to pitcher Mike Marino — who had been playing second earlier in the game — covering first base to record the final out in a wild 8-6 game in Riverhead.

The Blue Waves (7-6 League IV) saw their four-game winning streak come to an end in a game they felt they gave away. The Blue Waves led nearly the entire way before the Colts struck for seven runs in the final two innings to take the opener of a three-game series.

The Blue Waves, inching closer to an elusive playoff spot, missed an opportunity to grab a game from the league-leading Colts.

“Good teams, when you give them a chance to win, they’re going to win and that’s what [Hills West] did,” said Riverhead coach Rob Maccone. “We gave this one away.”

The Blue Waves were cruising along through five innings, punching a run across in four of the first five innings. They led 4-1 behind pitcher John Wendt, who was throwing another solid game. But he got into trouble quickly in the sixth when the Colts loaded the bases with nobody out. The Blue Waves had a chance to limit the damage, but a pair of miscues in the field helped prolong the inning and the Colts ended up with four runs.

“We had this one up 4-1 in the sixth,” Maccone said. “And then we just played sloppy defense in the sixth and seventh. But we got to regroup and we got to come back. Because the series isn’t over yet.”

The Colts (8-2 League IV, 10-2 overall) weren’t much better in the field as the game progressed. A Colts error in the bottom of the sixth helped the Blue Waves tie the game at 5 when Wendt drew a two-out, bases loaded walk.

In the seventh, Wendt traded spots in the field with Dilworth, who took over on the mound in a tied game. The Colts put three runs across the board, two of which were unearned, to take an 8-5 lead.

Just as it seemed the game was over, the Blue Waves nearly came storming back.

The Colts committed three errors in the bottom of the inning, allowing one run to score and the tying runs to reach base.

But when the Colts ultimately needed a play in the field most, they got it on the final out.

“We were playing extremely well,” Maccone said. “We were getting runs, doing situational hitting, getting big hits when we needed to. I don’t know what happened all of a sudden.”

Riverhead right fielder Nick Herzog had a big day at the plate. He was 3-for-3 with an RBI, run and intentional walk. He doubled and singled twice.

Wendt had a pair of RBI and was 1-for-2 with two walks. Left fielder Tanner Lindsay was 2-for-2 with an RBI and run.

Brad Camarda started for Hills West and threw five innings. Marino earned the win.

The Blue Waves will turn to Kenny Simco in Wednesday’s second game of the series in Dix Hills. The teams will play the finale Friday back in Riverhead and Herzog is slated to start that game for the Blue Waves.

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