This is Bryce Wallace’s first visit to Long Island and he likes it. Especially the weather.
“I’m a long way from home,” said Wallace, who lives in Bastrop, La. “It’s very different. I love the [Long Island] weather.”
By contrast, he pointed out: “When I left home it was probably 95 [degrees] with 90-percent humidity. This is amazing up here.”
The Riverhead Tomcats may have become as attached to Wallace as Wallace has to Long Island weather. The red-shirt sophomore for Louisiana Tech has been doing good things for the Tomcats.
Wallace singled in his 14th RBI of the season in a 7-1 win over the Southampton Breakers Sunday at Southampton High School. That made him the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League’s sole RBI leader. The Tomcats’ first baseman has had at least one RBI in 10 of the team’s 12 games entering Wednesday.
“I like to have runners on and feel like I have something to do when I’m at the plate,” said Wallace, one of only two Tomcats to have played in all 12 games and the holder of a .302 batting average.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Wallace throws and bats lefthanded.
Tomcats manager Bill Ianniciello said Wallace has turned in quality at-bats, showing good plate discipline. On top of that, Wallace has a glove to go with his bat.
“He’s been very sound at first base,” Ianniciello said. “He’s made some excellent plays for us defensively in the infield and … he’s knocking in runs. He’s been clutch with the bat.”
Wallace, who has been batting fifth in the order more often than not, has been doing this while adjusting to the wood bats the HCBL uses.
“You have to have the feel for wood,” he said. “When it’s metal, you can miss balls and still get base hits, but with wood, you got to barrel up pretty good.”
Wallace said he had played first base as a youngster before moving to the outfield for Oucahita Christian High School. He expects to return to first base next season at Louisiana Tech.
“I want to get a lot of at-bats and I want to get a lot of reps at first because that’s where they moved me,” he said. “We had 12 seniors this year, and one of them was a first baseman, so that’s where they will probably have me playing this year.”
If he brings a bunch of RBIs with him to the position, so much the better.
• Manager: Swing early
If you want success in the batter’s box, swing early.
At least that’s how Bill Ianniciello sees it.
“I’m a big advocate of hitting early in the count, usually the first pitch,” he said. “Most guys are going to throw the first-pitch strike if they can. Many times that’s the best pitch in the at-bat. The game is all about firsts, the first-pitch strike being one of them. So, as a hitter, you want to hit in a neutral count or a count that’s to your advantage. Once you get in a hole, it’s the pitcher’s advantage.”
Photo caption: First baseman Bryce Wallace brings a sure glove, along with a reliable bat, to the Riverhead Tomcats. (Credit: Bob Liepa)