Blue Waves end regular season in style with walk-off home run; playoffs start Wednesday

Down to their final out in the bottom of the 7th inning and trailing 3-2, Riverhead’s sophomore standout Mya Marelli came to the plate with an opportunity to tie the game. A lone runner stood on second base as Marelli dug in. 

“Standing in the dugout I wanted that chance,” Marelli said. “I wanted to be put in that situation. I was definitely nervous but I kept telling myself ‘you can do this’.”

With first base open and two straight pitches out of the strike zone, it looked as if Marelli might be pitched around. But he next pitch came over the heart of the plate and Marelli pounced on it, sailing the ball over the right field fence for her first career home run, securing a 4-3 victory in the final game of the regular season over William Floyd at Stotzky Memorial Park Friday evening.

“Quite frankly it’s hard to argue that I would want anyone else at the plate in that scenario,” Riverhead head coach Chris Accardi said. “She’s been doing it for us all year long. Whether it’s on the circle or at the plate. It just doesn’t surprise me anymore. She’s taken it to a different level.”

“I was just trying to put the bat on the ball,” Marelli said. “A ground ball up the middle would have tied the game.  When I connected with the ball I knew it had a chance but I wasn’t sure it was going to be a home run. I’ve never experienced that before.”

With Senior Night festivities before the game, honoring Bree and Megan McKay, a big crowd was on hand, including little league teams, friends and families, and even former, long-time Riverhead softball head coach Bob Fox in attendance. Everyone held their breath as they watched the ball soar onto the roadway beyond the fence, causing celebrations to instantly ensue. Adriana Martinez, Jordyn Kwasna, Kaysee Mojo and Shay Bealey all had crucial hits for the Blue Waves in the victory. 

Riverhead freshman Olivia Sulzer with a base hit. (Credit: Bill Landon)

Marelli put together a fantastic performance from the pitcher’s circle, striking out 16 over 7 innings – including her 100th strikeout of the season. The only runs she gave up were a pair of homers to Kiara Bellido, who has committed to play college softball at Syracuse University. 

“She made two mistakes,” Accardi said. “There’s a reason Bellido is going D1 – she doesn’t miss when you leave it over the plate. Otherwise, [Marelli] was in complete control.”

The win gives Riverhead (11-5, 12-7) prime position — and momentum — going into the playoffs. 

“A win like that is huge,” Accardi said. “It’s a jolt to our confidence. Losing today would have put a damper on the end of the season for sure.”

Riverhead will finally be fully healthy come Wednesday with Bree Mckay returning from a finger injury and first baseman Deanna North ready to play through a sprained joint.

Megan and Bree McKay celebrate Senior Night. (Bill Landon photo)

“Having a full squad will definitely make for some tough decisions, but getting Deanna back at first base is crucial to this team’s success,” Accardi said. “She’s just such a sure fielding first baseman and solid bat in the lineup.”

Though Sachem North secured first place with a victory over Sachem East on Friday, Riverhead, with 11 wins and finishing in second place, should have a home game in the first round of the playoffs. The bracket will be announced Monday evening and the first round will be played Wednesday. The Blue Waves will go in the playoffs smoking hot, winning 5 of their last 6 games to finish the regular season.

“They are just a tenacious bunch,” Accardi said. “They are gritty. The chemistry we have as a group is just not something I have seen before. Nobody is bigger than the team. They just never die and fight to the end. I would hate to play us in the first round.”