In a season where wins were hard to come by, the Riverhead Tomcats closed out their 2015 season on a winning note Saturday.
The Tomcats, who had been eliminated from the postseason picture, notched a 5-3 victory over Sag Harbor at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton. It marked the final game for a group of players who came together in late May focused on improving their games before heading back to their colleges.
Riverhead manager Randy Caden said it was nice to end the season with a victory.
“I wished all the guys the best of luck and told them if you need me, call me and hopefully somebody’s going to play professional ball one day,” he said.
Shoreham-Wading River graduate Tyler Osik ripped a single to right field to drive in a run as the Tomcats jumped ahead 5-0 over Sag Harbor through three innings. Osik, a second baseman for Riverhead who’s a sophomore at Coker College, closed out the season with a .248 average. He hit one home run and drove in nine runs.
“Playing summer league is important because it gets you at-bats and that’s really important to get ready for next year,” Osik said. “I’ve concentrated on getting good at-bats and getting better every day.”
The Tomcats’ bats cracked first when Jack Zagaja, a junior at the University of New Haven, drove in Alex Perry, a sophomore at Sacred Heart, to hit the scoreboard first. Ben Socher, a junior at Dartmouth, followed with a blooper to left-center plating Nate Soria, a sophomore at Xavier, to put the Tomcats ahead 2-0 in the first inning.
Soria would cross the plate again in the bottom of the second from another RBI single from Zagaja to take a three-run advantage.
Riverhead starting pitcher Nick Kuzia found himself in a jam in the top of the fifth by loading the bases with two outs. The Whalers drove in a run to get on the scoreboard and a Tomcat error allowed another run as Sag Harbor trimmed the deficit to 5-2. Riverhead limited the damage and maintained the three-run lead.
“Today we were relaxed and when you relax you play better and our pitchers made the difference,” Caden said. “Alex (Perry) was shut down today and I asked him can you do us a favor and he threw two innings for us.”
Perry, an infielder, took over on the mound to start the sixth and pitched two shutout innings. He finished the season with a .299 batting average.
Jake Reinhardt, a sophomore at the University of Iowa, earned the save by pitching the ninth inning. He gave up one run, raising his ERA to 1.00.
“Reinhardt was probably the ERA leader of the league and he showed it but he was beat up a little too, so we needed some help today and they all stepped up,” Caden said.
Reinhardt threw 35.2 innings in the summer league, striking out 32.
Tomcats outfielder Turner Buis closed out the season with a .354 average, the team leader for players with more than 100 at-bats. Buis, who plays for Cal St. Fullerton, drove in 11 runs on the season. Soria led the team in RBI with 20.
The Tomcats had six players post an ERA of 3.00 or lower on the season. Four (Reinhardt, Dan Jagiello, Joey Christopher, and Eric Baldwin) were all under 2.00.
Photo Caption: Alex Perry, who’s typically an infielder, pitched for the Tomcats Saturday. (Credit: Bill Landon)