Two high school baseball teams stepped back in time Saturday and changed history.
It was a change Shoreham-Wading River could have done without.
Miller Place’s protest related to its 6-5 loss to SWR on April 23 was upheld by Section XI, Suffolk County’s governing body for high school sports. Miller Place complained that some SWR players were behind the backstop and using a radar gun while his pitcher warmed up in the first inning.
“Under the bench and field conduct rules, it says that no coach or player can enter the area behind the catcher while the opposing pitcher and catcher are in their positions,” Section XI executive director Tom Combs told Newsday. “Shoreham had players directly behind the backstop during the warmup and the umpire did not ask them to move.”
Miller Place coach Rick Caputo said he “wasn’t surprised at all” when the ruling came down in his favor Thursday because he had read the rulebook. “It was a rules infraction that the umpire wasn’t aware of, so that’s how protests take place,” he said.
The protest didn’t sit well with SWR.
“It’s a really nitpicky kind of thing, that’s why I’m surprised they went in favor of the protest,” SWR coach Kevin Willi said. “It’s just disappointing, that’s all … Everybody played well and it was a real tight game and really there’s a huge amount of playoff implications and league-title implications from that particular game.”
It was ruled that the game be replayed in the bottom of the first inning Saturday with no score and individual statistics erased from the April 23 meeting.
This time, though, it was all Miller Place. Gavin McAlonie was splendid in handling the bulk of the work, sharing a two-hit shutout with Kevin Bowrosen in an 8-0 defeat of the Wildcats.
That result moved first-place Miller Place (14-3, 10-2 League VII) two games ahead of SWR (12-4, 8-4). Miller Place has a three-game league series remaining against Mount Sinai (12-4, 8-3). SWR has a more forgiving three-game league series left against winless Amityville (0-17, 0-12), as well as a non-league game against Connetquot.
“I thought it was unnecessary and unfair and I thought it was very shorthanded of them to try to come out and steal a game from us even though we beat them fairly,” SWR designated hitter Peter Minneci said after Saturday’s game at Kevin Williams Memorial Field in Shoreham. “It definitely didn’t affect the game, the thing that they protested. The fact that we had two kids behind home plate definitely didn’t win us the game. It’s ridiculous that we had to replay this game.”
SWR players said the upheld protest had no impact on the team’s play Saturday, which was well below SWR’s standards. Not only did the Wildcats commit five errors (“And they were bad errors, too,” said Willi) and surrender four unearned runs, but their usually potent offense was curiously quiet.
Chalk it up to a bad day.
“It wasn’t our day,” first baseman Everett Wehr said. “We had a few errors and were just not putting good swings on balls.”
Of course, McAlonie had something to do with that. The only thing separating the junior righthander from a no-hitter for much of the way was Wehr’s one-out looped single in the fourth. The ball dropped within feet of three fielders in shallow right-centerfield.
Jared Sciarrino was responsible for the only other SWR hit of the day. Sciarrino sent a one-out single to centerfield in the seventh, and that was the last batter McAlonie faced. McAlonie finished with six strikeouts and four walks.
“He was good,” Wehr said. “He was able to hit his spots, mix in a good breaking ball. He really kept us off-balance and he was able to shut us down.”
Miller Place took a 2-0 lead in the third when McAlonie pounded a single through the middle. That allowed Jordan Syperski (2-for-2, two runs, two walks) to score, and Jake Giacchetto followed him home on a wild throw.
Things crumbled apart for SWR in the sixth when Miller Place rang up five runs on three hits and three errors. Two of those hits were Bowrosen’s booming RBI double and an RBI single that Tom Nealis (2-for-3, stolen base) smacked.
The final run of the day came courtesy of a Giacchetto sacrifice fly in the seventh.
“All we can do at this point is just do our job and win three games against Amityville and hope for some luck or some help from Mount Sinai,” said Minneci.
Asked about SWR’s league-title chances, Wehr said, “They were pretty good coming into the day, but I think they got a little lower.”
Photo caption: Shoreham-Wading River’s D.J. Brown receives a late throw as Miller Place’s Kevin Bowrosen steals third base in the sixth inning. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)