Baseball: Paller, Solberg go deep as Ospreys produce 20 hits

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07/13/2012 8:48 PM |

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | North Fork’s Eric Romano, connecting on a pitch from Center Moriches’ Jason Schilling, enjoyed a three-hit game.


Friday the 13th was going to be bad news for somebody, not the North Fork Ospreys, though.

The Center Moriches Battlecats, on the other hand, will shudder at the memory of what transpired on their own Paul Gibson Field on Friday. Three-run homers by Robert Paller and Ryan Solberg during a seven-run second inning launched the Ospreys to a 17-5 trouncing of the Battlecats. The Ospreys (17-11) produced 20 hits in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League game, and that was with the contest stopped after eight innings because of darkness.

“We were on fire today, that’s for sure,” said Solberg, the designated hitter.

Paller finished the game with four runs batted in. The Ospreys catcher, Tim Panetta, continued swinging a hot bat. He went 4 for 5 with three runs scored, an RBI, a double and a walk. Solberg and Eric Romano had three hits each. All nine Ospreys batters had at least one hit, and seven Ospreys had more than one against four Center Moriches pitchers.

“It’s interesting,” Paller said. “We seem to put up very little runs or a lot of runs. Top to bottom and guys off the bench, they can all swing it.”

After three straight losses dislodged the Ospreys from first place in the Hampton Division, they won their third straight with Friday’s result. It was the fourth time they have beaten the Battlecats in as many games this season.

It was the fourth straight loss for the Battlecats (14-14), who have given up 53 runs during that run, which includes a 15-5 loss to the Ospreys on Wednesday night.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Robert Paller drove in four runs, three of them on a home-run swing in the second inning.

When it was suggested to Center Moriches coach Bill Batewell that perhaps his team was running thin on pitching arms, he replied: “I don’t know if we’re thin, maybe we’re tired. Right now I’m disappointed. … Our pitching has been lackluster lately, and we’re not hitting the ball real well.”

He added: “We’ve given up almost 50 runs in the last three games. It’s ridiculous.”

Meanwhile, the Ospreys seemed to be hitting everything in sight.

It all started with Run No. 1 in the first inning. Paller set the tone, opening the game by knocking a stand-up double. He stole third base and then scored when the catcher’s throw flew past the third baseman.

But the really big inning was the second. After the Ospreys loaded the bases through a Ryan Burns double, a broken-bat infield single by Romano and a walk by Vinny Citro, a balk brought home Burns. Then Paller cleared the bases with his home run over right field. Shortly after that Panetta doubled and Dan Kerr drew a walk, setting the table for Solberg, who crushed a 2-2 pitch well beyond the left-field fence.

Just like that, it was 8-0. Center Moriches’ No. 5 batter, Michael Hubbard (three RBI), had not even made his first plate appearance.

It wasn’t the video-game-like numbers that North Fork coach Bill Ianniciello wanted so much as good at-bats, and he saw plenty of those.

“We’re not looking for big numbers, we’re just looking to win games and get some quality at-bats, so I’m not counting numbers,” he said. “I like the kid leading off the game with an aggressive double and then stealing third base and taking a run there. That was as big to me as anything.”

The Battlecats managed only four hits off pitchers Vaughn Hayward and Ryan Calby. Hayward gave up three hits over the four innings he worked before being relieved. Calby, a left-hander making his Ospreys debut, pitched the remaining four innings, during which he allowed one hit and one run. He retired the first 10 batters he faced, fanning two of them.

Injuries to pitchers contributed to North Fork’s recent three-game losing streak, so the addition of Calby was welcomed.

“We struggled a little bit having some injuries with our pitchers,” Paller said, “but we got some reinforcements and the hitters are picking up the pitchers right now, and it’s leading to Ws.”

Yes, it was Friday the 13th, but there was more to the Battlecats’ loss than superstition. The Ospreys’ bats had an awful lot to do with it.

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