The Riverhead Tomcats will not go undefeated this Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League season.
The North Fork Ospreys made sure of that as Max Smith scored on an error in the top of the ninth inning as they recorded a 5-4 victory to hand Riverhead its first loss at Sgt. Jonathan Keller Field in Calverton Tuesday evening.
Riverhead fell to 9-1-1, while North Fork improved to 11-7.
With runners first and third with two out in the ninth and Don Schock at the plate, Dylan Resk bolted for second and drew a throw from catcher Thomas Asbaty to second baseman Michael Flynn. Flynn started to run Resk back to first, but made a throwing error, allowing Smith to score what proved to be the winning run.
Bobby Romano was hit by a pitch from reliever Jake Erhard leading off the inning, but he was erased on Smith’s groundout. Smith then stole second base and reached third on a throwing error by Asbaty. Resk then walked, setting up the sequence that led to the go-ahead run.
The Ospreys grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first inning on Smith’s sacrifice fly to right and run-scoring singles by Resk and Schock.
Riverhead got a run back on the bottom of the inning on Benjamin Wanger’s force out and tied it in the second on a groundout by Asbaty and Anthony Lazar’s sacrifice fly to center.
The Tomcats took the lead for the first and only time in the fifth inning on Stephen Haring’s second home run of the year for a 4-3 advantage.
Then it was North Fork’s turn to rally. Nick Bellafronto led off the seventh with a double and he eventually scored on an error by third baseman Asher Lee-Tyson for a 4-4 deadlock.
The Ospreys were fortified by outstanding relief work after starter Matt Messier went five innings. Anthony Catinella struck out six and allowed only two hits over 3 1/3 before departing after Lazar’s one-out double in the bottom of the ninth.
Collin Ferguson retired the last two batters for the save.
North Fork will host Riverhead at Cochran Park at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Photo Caption: Nick Bellafronto slides into second base safely as the ball pops out of the glove of second baseman Michael Flynn. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)