The Southampton baseball team (13-2) remained atop League VIII by taking two of three games from Mercy (4-8) last week. The Mariners won the first two games easily, 4-0 and 15-2, before losing at home on Friday, 4-3, in extra innings. Southampton leads second place Mattituck (9-3) by a 2-½ game margin. The Mariners begin a crucial three-game series against the Tuckers next Monday with two of those games on the road.
Wyatt Schmidt (5-0) pitched his fourth consecutive complete game to take the series opener against Mercy at home on April 23. It was the first time this season the Monarchs were shut out offensively. Relying on Schmidt’s pitching performance, the Mariners didn’t need much offense. Schmidt helped himself out at the plate by going 1 for 1 with a double, two walks and two runs. Also contributing to the winning effort were Garrett Pike and Eddie McLaughlin, both going 2 for 3 from the dish, adding an RBI, a stolen base, and a run scored.
The Mariners broke out in game two at Mercy the next day, scoring 15 runs. McLaughlin got the win for the Mariners and got plenty of help from Thomas Beckman, who went 4 for 5 at the plate. Beckman also had four RBIs, scored two runs, and added two stolen bases. Schmidt scored four runs and went 5 for 6 with a double, triple and two RBIs.
Beckman took the hill for the Mariners in the series finale. He ran into trouble early during the top half of the first inning, getting behind on a few batters. The Monarchs showed no mercy and jumped out to a 3-0 lead, which they didn’t surrender until late in the game.
The Mariners were finally able to break through and score two runs in the bottom of the third. Their defense played a huge role in keeping the game close on several occasions. With Mercy threatening in the top half of the inning with runners on, Mercy’s Christian Lynch drove a fly ball into left field. Southampton’s Chris Cornacchio sprinted towards the left field line and made a spectacular diving catch to end the inning. The catch seemed to provide a much needed spark for the Mariner bats. Cornacchio wasn’t done. He kept the momentum going by leading off the bottom half of the inning with a single. Schmidt then belted a 2-run blast over the left field wall to cut the lead 3-2, with his third homer of the season.
Southampton would eventually tie it up in the bottom of the fourth. Again a spectacular defensive play in the outfield helped spoil another Mercy rally and help spark the offense. This time it was center fielder David Kirshy who flashed some leather. With two outs and runners on, a Monarch batter belted a screaming line drive into center field. Without hesitation, Kirshy sprinted in and laid out to catch the ball in front of him just before it hit the ground.
Kirshy’s catch set the tone for the bottom half of the inning. The Mariners were able to load the bases for Jake Marano, whose grounder led to scoring the tying run. That was all the Mariners could muster off Mercy’s Lynch, who was effective at moving the ball around the plate and keeping the Mariners off the bases.
Neither team could produce any runs during the fifth, but yet another Mariner defensive effort thwarted a potential Monarch score in the top of the sixth. With the go-ahead runner on third, the ball was hit sharply to shortstop McLaughlin who was able to knock it down. Seeing the ball elude McLaughlin, the unforced runner at third decided to take off for home. McLaughlin quickly gathered the ball and fired a strike from the infield dirt to catcher Alex Soyars who had to make a fast swiping tag ending the inning.
The Mariners had a golden opportunity to win it in the bottom of the seventh, but a most unlikely scenario played out that turned a potential game-winning rally into an emotional roller coaster that ended in disappointment. With the bases loaded and no outs, Schmidt hit a sharp grounder to the third baseman who quickly threw home for the force out. The catcher then threw back to third to force the runner out from second. By this time the base runner at first had not yet reached second, and seeing this, the Mercy infielder threw over to second base to complete a triple play. The inning was over.
Mercy was able to score the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth. With a runner on third, Pike, pitching in relief, threw a pitch that bounced in the dirt and took a tough hop that ended up behind both the plate umpire and Soyars. The umpire, trying to move out of the way, inadvertently kicked the ball away from Soyars giving the base runner just enough time to score without a play. With a one-run lead Lynch was able to hold off the Mariners in the bottom half of the inning to finish his complete game and earn the win.
Despite the disappointing loss, the Mariners are poised to finish at or near the top of League VII. With three games remaining, Southampton closes out its regular season against second place Mattituck. The Tuckers are currently riding a seven game win streak and still have six games remaining. They trail Southampton by one game in the loss column. Southampton will need to win at least two games to clinch the League VIII title, otherwise they will have to wait for the outcome of Mattituck’s series against Port Jefferson.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Monday, 4/29, at Mattituck, 4:30 p.m.; Wednesday, 5/1 vs. Mattituck, 4:30 p.m.; Thursday, 5/2 at Mattituck, 4:30 p.m.