The games just needed to start to count.
After losing their first four games of the season—all non-league contests—by a run differential of more than 10 runs per game, the East Hampton baseball team turned things around quickly and swept Westhampton Beach in what was each team’s first League VI three-game series of the season. The sweep has the Bonackers (3-0 League VI, 3-4 overall) sitting in first place in the early going.
“We scheduled a whole bunch of non-league games early, but that was kind of like to see where we are and what we could and couldn’t do, and we treated them like scrimmages pretty much,” East Hampton head coach Vinny Alversa explained. “But we weren’t playing well at all. We were walking people left and right. I guess maybe now that the games really count, we took it seriously. We threw strikes and let the defense do the work. We played a little bit of small ball and then we hit the ball really well on Friday. That was a good sign.”
East Hampton won the first game of the series, 5-2, at home on April 9, won the middle game of the series, 3-2, at Westhampton Beach the following day, then clinched the sweep with a 14-1 victory back at home on Friday.
The second game, which is always one of the more important games in a three-game stretch, since it can decide who wins the series, went into an extra inning. James Foster was hit by a pitch to lead off the top of the eighth. He stole second and then was brought around to score on a base hit down the left field line by Jackson Baris to give the Bonackers a 3-2 lead. Elian Abreu, who came in relief of starting pitcher Colin Ruddy in the sixth, got the eventual win by pitching three strong innings.
Tucker Genovesi led off Friday’s game with a home run and that led to an offensive barrage for the Bonackers. Zach Barzilay hit a two-run double in the third, and it was more than enough for Kurt Matthews on the mound, who didn’t allow an earned run on three hits, three walks and seven strikeouts in the complete game.
East Hampton did suffer a bit of a loss on Friday, when Baris was hit on his throwing hand by a pitch. Alversa fears he may have a broken hand that could cost him his season, although he was waiting on official word as of Sunday. Baris pitched a complete game in game one of the Westhampton Beach series, striking out eight and only allowing a single hit, but Alversa said his bat had been hot, as of late, too, and he was playing a solid outfield when he wasn’t on the mound. If Baris is out for an extended period of time, Abreu will move back into the starting rotation, Alversa said, along with Ruddy and Matthews, which means the team is going to need a few players to step up into relief roles.
East Hampton had another stiff non-league test on Wednesday with Shoreham/Wading River, and then will have the rest of the week off before starting league play up again with Harborfields on Tuesday, April 23, at home at 4 p.m. If the first week of the league season is any indication, it could be a dog fight between five of the six teams. Rocky Point and Sayville, the returning county champion and finalist, respectively, each lost a game in their first series.
Westhampton Beach (0-3 League VI, 0-7 overall), meanwhile, will continue to search for its first victory of the season. It hosted Miller Place in a non-league game on Wednesday and will play Sayville next week, also beginning on April 23 at home at noon. Additional information on the Hurricanes was not provided.