KNIGHTS 8, FIRST SETTLERS 2
One could say that it was a walk in the park for the Smithtown Christian baseball team. Or, to be more precise, 16 walks in the park — all at Southold’s expense.
Aided by 16 bases on balls, Smithtown Christian romped to an 8-2 win at Southold High School on Saturday. Tim Gorton drove in three runs on 3-for-5 hitting and Dom Damon knocked in a couple of other runs for the Knights (2-0 overall and in Suffolk County League IX). Aaron Patti and Vinny Ciaravino added two hits apiece.
But the difference in the game was control. Three Southold pitchers issued all those walks. Two Smithtown Christian players, Dylan Prince and Kyle Straker, each walked three times.
Meanwhile, Smithtown Christian surrendered only two walks.
“A tough way to go down,” said second baseman Luke Hokanson (2 for 3, hit by a pitch), the only Southold player with more than one hit in the game. “The pitchers got to hit their spots, and we got to hit the ball.”
The loss dropped Southold to 0-2, 0-2.
Smithtown Christian put up two runs in the top of the first inning without the benefit of a hit. The Knights drew five walks that inning, including two with the bases loaded.
“Obviously, that’s what hurt us today, and once they got the walks, they got a couple of hits here and there through the holes,” Southold coach Mike Carver said. “That was the name of the game today. Frustrating, but we’re still not hitting the ball the way we should be hitting it, regardless of the walks.”
The score was 5-0 before Southold’s No. 5 batter, Will Fujita, even got a chance to step into the batter’s box for the first time. Gorton, who has eight runs batted in from the first two games of the season, socked a two-run double and then scored the fifth run on Seth Connell’s sharp single in the second inning.
Both Southold runs were scored in the second. Fujita came home on a groundout by Alex Sinclair, and Alex Poliwoda lined a run-scoring single, making it a three-run game.
The game’s final runs were scored in the third, without any walks. Smithtown Christian delivered four of its nine hits that inning, most notably Damon’s two-run single and Gorton’s run-scoring single.
“Everybody was just on their game today,” Ciaravino said. “We came out here and we played our hearts out.”
Southold’s starting center fielder, Matt Stepnoski, was pulled from the game before the third inning started. Later in the inning he left the field. Carver declined to comment about the circumstances surrounding Stepnoski’s departure.
Connell notched the win. He had seven strikeouts, giving up one earned run and four hits over five innings. On top of that, he allowed only one walk.
Smithtown Christian showed discipline at the plate, refraining from swinging at bad pitches.
“We preach to them when we take BP: ‘Have good at-bats. Don’t chase pitches out of the zone,’ ” Smithtown Christian coach Craig Gorton said. “We just had good at-bats. You can’t ask for better at-bats than what we had.”
Southold had six hits, but it doesn’t seem as if its hitting has kicked into full gear yet. The First Settlers stranded four runners in scoring position.
“We’re not playing the way we should be playing,” Hokanson said. “We’re a much better team. We should be blowing the doors off. We have a very talented team. We just need a catalyst. We got to get something going. We got to get a jump-start, a fresh start.”
The First Settlers have to believe better days will come and they will be able to put this road-bump start to the season behind them.
“I would have loved to be in Smithtown Christian’s shoes and be 2 and 0 right now,” Carver said, “but we’re on the other side of it.”