Needing to sweep Center Moriches—one of the top teams in League VIII—to reach the playoffs wasn’t going to be an easy task for the Hampton Bays baseball team. But after winning the first game of the series, 6-5, at home in extra innings on May 6, it looked like things could go the Baymen’s way.
Center Moriches, though, won the final two games of the series, the first a 10-7 win at home on May 7, officially eliminating Hampton Bays from playoff contention. The Red Devils then won the season finale, 12-1, at Hampton Bays on Friday.
After winning just three games overall last season, Hampton Bays finished this season with an 8-10 League VIII season, just three games out of a Class B postseason berth, and 10-10 overall. Hampton Bays head coach Pete Meehan said he doesn’t judge a season by win/loss records and more or less pronounced it a successful campaign.
“The disappointing part about not making the playoffs is not having the opportunity to go through all of that with those kids,” he said. “It was such a great group of kids and I would have liked to have spent more time with them.
“There were a number of games we pointed to where one play could have changed the outcome of our season, but that’s the nature of the sport,” he added. “But they were winners. It was a season without any controversy, without any turmoil. Just 12 great kids.”
Hampton Bays took a 4-0 lead against Center Moriches in game one of the series after a bases-loaded walk and a triple into the left-field corner by Nick Giannone that cleared the bases. The Red Devils came back, though, and tied the game at 5-5 in the top of the seventh, eventually forcing extra innings.
In the bottom of the eighth, sophomore Billy Dzanoucakis doubled to lead off the inning and was bunted to third base by sophomore Ryan Gunn. Junior Tanner Troyan fouled off a couple of tough pitches behind in the count at 0-2 and eventually hit a chopping ground ball over the pitcher’s head. The Center Moriches shortstop fielded the ball and threw home but Dzanoucakis slid safely into home plate for the game-winning run.
Hampton Bays senior starting pitcher Ryan Schultheis went all eight innings, allowed three earned runs on eight hits, one walk and struck out six. The Baymen accrued just four hits the entire game but took advantage of nine walks by Center Moriches. Freshman Andrew Hafemeister went 1 for 1 with two walks and two runs scored for Hampton Bays.
Center Moriches came back in game two of the series and took Hampton Bays out of the game right away. The Red Devils held a 5-0 lead after two innings and it wound up being too big of a deficit to overcome. The Baymen, down 10-3 in the top of the seventh, battled to the end, scoring four runs in the final inning before taking the loss. Schultheis went 2 for 3 while sophomore Tim Frost went 3 for 4.
Hampton Bays had to face Center Moriches ace Patrick Bryant in the series finale and it wound up being one of the poorest offensive games of the year for the Baymen. Bryant allowed five hits, no walks, and struck out nine, which tied a season-high for the Baymen. Center Moriches backed Bryant offensively with five runs in the first, two in the second, two in the third and three in the fourth.
Schultheis wanted one last go on the mound for the Baymen so Meehan gave him the ball in the fifth. He didn’t allow a hit in his final three innings pitched in his high school career. “It was nice to see him go out that way,” Meehan said.
Hampton Bays will graduate five players this June in Schultheis, Giannone, Ryan Cavanaugh, Kevin Quintero and Kevin Agoglia. While a good core of the players will be returning next season, Meehan said the team will miss the outgoing seniors.
“Schultheis did so much for us, offensively and defensively,” he explained. “He pitched in 10 of our 20 games this season. Cavanaugh was such a leader, such a mature kid. And Nick Giannone had such a great season for us.
“We’ve got a lot coming back but a lot leaving too,” Meehan added.