Before the season began, Tom Hoare, in his first season as Westhampton Beach’s head baseball coach, wanted to keep the atmosphere surrounding his team positive, win or lose. Even when the team was swept by Harborfields in its first League VI series of the season, losing by an average of about eight runs per game, Hoare still remained optimistic.
Hoare’s positive thinking seemed to work in the long run, as the Hurricanes finished with one of their best records in recent memory. Westhampton Beach took two of three games from Rocky Point last week, beating the Eagles, 5-1, at home on May 8 and winning the series final, 3-1, in Rocky Point on Friday after losing the first game, 5-4, at Rocky Point on May 6.
Over the final three weeks of the season, Westhampton Beach won three of its final four games and won two of its final three series, while also taking a game from playoff-bound Miller Place. While a 6-14 overall record may not be acceptable for some programs, it’s a step in the right direction for a program that hadn’t won a game in two years coming into this season.
“I wanted to keep the guys believing in themselves, and they did a good job with that,” Hoare said. “I didn’t want them hanging their heads when things went wrong, I didn’t want to see them giving up, and I think they stayed in there right through to the end. I think they turned a corner in the final three weeks of the season.”
The maturation of Mike Pesce also continued last week. He pitched a complete game in the 5-1 win at home and earned his third consecutive victory. He allowed one earned run on four hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Pesce needed only about 80 pitches to finish the game, and the only run came from a solo home run from Brennan Strovink, the Eagles’ cleanup hitter.
“It’s a great example of what we’ve been trying to tell the kids: there was no one on base for that home run,” Hoare said. “With no walks and no errors, that home run didn’t really hurt us.”
The Canes scored two runs in the first inning, two in the fourth, and tacked on another run in the fifth. Daniel McEvoy drew a walk in the first inning, then stole second base, and two consecutive base hits from Chris Pesce and Brett Pisaneschi scored two runs. McEvoy hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning to give his team a more comfortable lead.
McEvoy finished 2 for 3 with two RBIs, while Pisaneschi went 3 for 4 with an RBI, and Chris Pesce was 2 for 4 with an RBI.
The team’s ace, Pisaneschi, pitched another complete game in the season finale on Friday, allowing one earned run on four hits, with three walks while striking out two. With the game tied at 1-1 heading into the final inning, the Canes had to rally for the win. Hunter Tracy drew a one-out walk, then with two outs he stole second base. Ryan Osborne, with two strikes, laced a single to right centerfield that scored Tracy with the go-ahead run. Jake Bramwell followed with a single, then McEvoy hit a run-scoring, ground-rule double down the left field line to make the final score 3-1.
McEvoy finished the season with the team lead in almost every offensive statistical category. He batted .379 with two home runs and 12 RBIs and led the team in doubles (seven), triples (three), extra-base hits (12), runs scored (17) and walks (16). Ernie Geraci led the team in hitting (.429) and also had a home run, three doubles and 10 RBIs this season.
McEvoy and Geraci will be returning, along with Pisaneschi and Pesce, to make up a very good core of players for next season. Chris Pesce, Thomas Peyton and David Hamor all will be graduating, leaving a hole in the team’s pitching staff. But Hoare said that Zach Downs, who dominated at junior varsity this season, should fill in the team’s third starting rotation spot and Bramwell, who was used sparingly on the mound this season, could become a starter or be the team’s top reliever next season. Tracy and Ryan Fennell will also be graduating this season.
Overall, Hoare said it was a successful season. The last time the team won five games was when Mark Podlas and Joe Candela were both on the team, and they’re both close to graduating from college. If Hoare could revisit the series against Harborfields, which finished with the identical record as the Canes (5-13), he most definitely would.