Colorful fireworks lit up the night sky at the Mattituck Lions Club Strawberry Festival. Not too far down the road, the North Fork Ospreys produced fireworks of their own Saturday night.
It could be a sign that the Ospreys are turning things around offensively. Or maybe it’s just a case that they simply love playing against the Riverhead Tomcats.
The Ospreys had entered the game with a .193 team batting average, the worst in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League. That didn’t deter them, though, as they banged out 11 hits, including home runs by Steele Netterville and Brendan Bean within three at-bats of each other in the third inning, for a season-high run total in an 11-4 romp at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic.
“It’s all clicking right now so it’s nice,” said Netterville, who drove in three of his four runs when he crushed his second home run of the season over the left-field fence. “It can give the whole team confidence of what we can do and what we’re capable of doing.”
Bean followed up two batters later with a two-run shot, also his second of the season, as part of a seven-run burst in the third.
They both had two-hit games, along with three teammates — Tyrese Clayborne, Tyler Shedler-McAvoy and J.C. Santini.
“We were all hitting nice thoughout the lineup,” Netterville said. “We just kept tacking on runs. Even when we had a nice lead, we kept going, kept adding on.”
Shedler-McAvoy, a late arrival to the club, made an impressive debut in his first game in an Ospreys uniform, driving in three runs and scoring two.
“I think everyone had good at-bats, you know, like from top to bottom, everyone was putting some good swings on the ball,” the Seton Hall junior said. “No one was really chasing anything and everyone was really looking for something to hit well and something to do damage with. It was definitely encouraging. One good at-bat leads to another one.”
Jarrad DeLarso (1-1) picked up the win, allowing four hits and three runs (two earned) over five innings.
“Things just weren’t falling our way,” said Eduardo Malinowski, who had two RBIs for the Tomcats on 2-for-3 hitting with a sacrifice fly. “We weren’t making our pitches. We weren’t executing at the plate at times when we needed. We had runners in scoring position many times and we just didn’t do our job … It wasn’t Tomcat baseball today.”
The Tomcats seem to be good medicine for Bill Ianniciello’s Ospreys, who are 3-0-1 against the Riverhead club and 2-6-1 against teams not named the Tomcats. North Fork opened the season with a seven-game winless streak. One of those games was a tie with the Tomcats (5-4-2). The next three meetings between the teams have all brought the same results: Ospreys wins.
“They are a good team,” Tomcats coach John Galanoudis said. “They’re well-coached. I love their coaches. They’re great guys, but as of right now, I think they have our number. I think we need a break from them a little bit.”
The Tomcats may not complain that their next game against the Ospreys will be no sooner than next Saturday at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton.
DeLarso struggled with his control in the third when he hit three batters. After hitting Luke Oliphant and Connor Echols in successive at-bats, DeLarso also hit Tyler Sanfilippo four plate appearances later. The Tomcats picked up two runs that inning, courtesy of sacrifice flies by Malinowski and Alex Baratta.
But the Tomcats’ shortcomings were too great. It wasn’t their night.
“They were executing; we weren’t,” Malinowski said. “That was the main deal right there.”
After the game, Galanoudis had a message for the Tomcats.
“The game’s over, move past it and don’t put too much thought in it,” he said. “I told them, ‘We’re playing tomorrow. That’s the beauty of baseball.’ ”
For the Ospreys on this night, beauty came in the form of a one-sided slugfest.
As far as fireworks go, it was quite a show.
Photo caption: The Tomcats’ Luke Oliphant batting against the Ospreys at Cochran Park. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)