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Aug 2, 2018 3:11 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Riverhead Tomcats Claim Their First-Ever HCBL Title

Joe Murphy (NYIT) on the mound for the Riverhead Tomcats during game three of the championship series. DANIELA DETORE
Aug 6, 2018 11:28 AM

The Riverhead Tomcats held their first-ever Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League trophy up high in celebration in the middle of Sergeant Jonathan Keller Field at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton, as the sun set on yet another season on Wednesday, August 1.

The Tomcats defeated the reigning champion Long Island Road Warriors, 8-4, in a winner-take-all game three on Wednesday, August 1.

“I told these guys that they deserved it,” said Riverhead manager John Galanoudis about the HCBL title. He said that the team has dealt with a lot of adversity throughout the season with untimely injuries and off-field issues, but it never stopped working toward its goal, the championship title.

“I give these guys a ton of credit for pulling together and sticking together,” he said.

The Tomcats didn’t waste any time getting on the board in the deciding game. Luke Oliphant (UMass-Amherst) worked a lead-off walk, Alex Baratta (Binghampton) followed with a base hit, then Louis Antos (Queens) doubled to score both Baratta and Oliphant to put the Tomcats up, 2-0. Later in the inning, Matt Daller (Rhode Island) worked a bases-loaded walk to bring in Eduardo Malinowski (UPenn) to set the score at 3-0.

Long Island struggled offensively against Riverhead starting pitcher Casey Aubin (UMass-Amherst), who allowed just one earned run in six innings, before giving the ball to Joe Murphy (NYIT). Riverhead, meanwhile, continued to put up runs. Chris Stefl’s (St. John’s) home run in the bottom of the seventh gave the Tomcats a commanding 8-0 lead.

Long Island scored all four of its runs in the top of the eighth when Matthew Stepnoski (Wilmington) hit a single to center field that scored Patrick Lagravinese (Albany). Marcos Perivolaris (SUNY Cortland) then scored on a passed ball and Thomas Colombo followed with a two-run base hit to make it 8-4.

Beau Keathley (Oakland) allowed a pair of walks in the ninth but worked around them and eventually got Perivolaris to pop out to Malinowski at second base, and the Tomcats celebrated just above the pitcher’s mound.

Stefl and Malinowski were honored as co-MVPs of the championship series. After his performance on the mound and at the plate for Riverhead, Stefl will head to the renowned Cape Cod League to finish up his summer with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in their postseason.

The Tomcats were the hottest team heading into the playoffs after a 24-13-3 regular season, but were brought to three games in both the semifinal and championship series by the Sag Harbor Whalers and Road Warriors, respectively. But now they can put their name on the HCBL trophy for the first time in their 10-year history.

“They deserve it more than anybody,” said Galanoudis.

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