According to head coach Tom Hoare, it’s been more than a decade since the Westhampton Beach baseball team has made the playoffs. Last week, though, the Hurricanes took a big step in securing a postseason berth by taking two of three games from Shoreham/Wading River, which came into the series unbeaten.
Westhampton Beach won the opening game of the series, 4-3, at Shoreham on April 22, then won the middle game, 6-1, at home the following day. Shoreham came back to win the series finale, 13-5, back at its home field on Thursday, April 24.
It was a big week for the Canes, who, with the series victory, created a bit of a logjam at the top of the League VII standings. Shoreham is now tied for first place with Bayport/Blue Point, both with identical 7-2 records, while Westhampton Beach (6-3 in League VII play, 8-6 overall) is just a game out of first.
“We did what we needed to do this week, which was take two of three from Shoreham,” Hoare said.
The Hurricanes’ pitching rotation was reshuffled last week, as Zach Downs hadn’t pitched in close to 10 days since he was out two weeks ago with an illness. So Hoare decided to go with Downs on the mound in the opening game of last week’s series with Shoreham, followed by the team’s ace, Brett Pisaneschi, and then Mike Pesce.
“We didn’t really do it to strategize against them,” Hoare explained. “We throw our guys when they’re ready.”
Downs responded very well and had a strong outing against the Wildcats last week. He pitched five scoreless innings, until faltering in the sixth, when he gave up three runs that tied the game, 3-3. But the Canes came back in the top of the seventh to bail him out.
After consecutive walks by Dan McEvoy and Ernie Geraci, McEvoy made a heads-up play when he took third base on a pitch in the dirt. Ryan Burke, on the next pitch, hit a sacrifice fly to right field to drive in McEvoy with what turned out to be the game-winning run.
Nick Arpino came in and pitched a clean seventh inning for the save. Ryan Osborne went 2 for 4 in the victory for the Canes.
“That was a huge win, especially how we won it,” Hoare said. “We were out in front the whole game, until they stormed back in the sixth. So they had all momentum going for them, but we took care of business. A real professional at-bat by Burke to get that run in—and then Arpino came in, in a pressure situation, and did his job.”
Westhampton Beach jumped out to an early 6-0 lead after two innings of play in game two of the series, scoring four of their six runs in the second. After Oscar Marroquin was hit by a pitch to start the inning, James Carbone singled and then Nick Einstman had a bunt single that scored Marroquin. Ernie Geraci then doubled to deep left field, scoring Carbone. Einstman scored on a passed ball later in the inning. Pisaneschi, who started on the mound, helped his own cause by driving in Geraci with a sacrifice fly to left field.
Hoare admitted that Pisaneschi didn’t have his best stuff on the mound—he allowed a season-high five walks but hunkered down when he needed to, posting nine strikeouts. He allowed only three hits in six innings of work.
Geraci finished 2 for 3 with a double, while Burke finished 1 for 3 with a double.
Both teams played sloppy in the series finale: Shoreham made five errors, while Westhampton Beach made four. But the Wildcats also hit the ball well in timely situations, which led to the lopsided score. The Canes led, 3-1, heading into the bottom of the second, but the Wildcats scored five runs in the inning to take a commanding 6-3 lead.
Burke had two of his team’s seven hits, and the Canes, as a team, were able to draw six walks.
Westhampton Beach began a series with Mount Sinai this week. The Mustangs are just 3-6 in league play this season but took two of three games from Miller Place last week. Hoare said he is not taking them lightly.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Tuesday, 4/29, vs. Mt. Sinai; Wednesday, 4/30, at Mt. Sinai; Friday, 5/2, vs. Mt. Sinai, 4 p.m.; Tuesday, 5/6, at Miller Place, 4 p.m.