Gabriel Romano did not have an opportunity to finish what he started, which was one gem of a game.
The Shoreham-Wading River senior righthander was disappointed that he was pulled after reaching the Suffolk County pitch limit of 105 with one out remaining in a Suffolk County League VI encounter at Bayport-Blue Point.
First baseman T.J. Wachter came on to retire the final batter in the 3-0 victory, which gave the unbeaten Wildcats a sweep of the three-game series on a chilly Thursday afternoon.
Romano was just about untouchable, allowing only two hits. He struck out 11, walked three and a hit a batter in what he called “one of my best games so far.”
“I just hope to keep doing it, to keep going further, to the playoffs,” he added.
The Wildcats (8-0, 8-0) are certainly pointed in the right direction, thanks to the likes of Romano.
“Romano did a great job,” Shoreham coach Kevin Willi said.
So great that the Phantoms (3-5, 1-5) could not chase him, although the rulebook did. But there was some controversy surrounding what transpired.
The rulebook states that once a pitcher reaches 105 pitches, he cannot start a new batter. After surrendering a single to Liam Dougherty to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning, Romano struck out the next two hitters before hitting Kevin Hahn. That’s when Bayport claimed the 6-5, 200-pound pitcher had reached the magic number.
“The discrepancy there was our pitching counting book had 90 at the beginning of the inning and their [Bayport] pitch counting book had 92,” Willi said. “They conferred each inning. There was a miscommunication between our team and theirs. Our guy thought 90 was the number … and they thought 92 was the number. It turns out the last batter he reached the 105 limit. There was a little argument about that and then we had to take him out.”
Wachter came on and struck out designated hitter Cameron Miller on three pitches.
“That’s a good thing about having a lot of pitching,” Romano said. “You don’t have to worry.”
Romano was outstanding, retiring the first 11 batters while striking out seven before Josh Monturo solved him for a two-out double in the fourth inning.
“He came in and threw strikes,” Willi said. “He hit 89 mph today and his breaking ball was on point. He got a lot of guys looking on the breaking ball, strike three. He threw his changeup really well, too. He was able to throw all his pitches in any count, which was really good.”
Added Romano: “I was getting outs. I had good fielders behind me. We put up a few runs early, took a lot of pressure off of me.”
Before he stepped on the mound, Romano had been given a 2-0 lead. Lead-off man Jesse Keshner reached on an error. Two strikeouts later, Ethan Baumack doubled and Wachter walked to load the bases. Rightfielder Tyler Widercrantz singled up the middle, driving in two runs.
“I was just looking to poke something the other way or up the middle, get them in, to get the team hyped up to get us going,” said Widercrantz, who went 3-for-3 with two doubles and scored Shoreham’s final run on an error in the fourth.
“When you draw first blood right there — when you score two runs, three runs in the first inning, it really sets the tone right away,” Willi said.
Coming off a stellar 24-2 season, Willi did not know how good the Wildcats would be, having lost 16 players to graduation. Now he knows as it seems at least a different player plays hero every game.
“All one through nine, all our hitters can hit,” Romano said. “As a pitcher on the other team, it’s tough. You can’t pitch around anyone.”
Willi said Widercrantz wasn’t even a starter at the beginning of the season. “He has been really hitting well, he said of his rightfielder, who went 3-for-3 with a home run in a 10-6 win in the first game of the series three days earlier.
Wachter already has three wins in relief.
“He’s a 10th grader,” Willi said. “He didn’t even start the season with us. He got moved up. So, we figured out a lot of things out really quick with a lot of the seniors graduating.
“We have a real good team atmosphere. Everybody can contribute on any day. It’s a fun team to coach. It’s definitely a fun team to coach.”