PORTERS 18, BEARS 4
A three-game winning streak can work wonders for a high school baseball team’s confidence and outlook. It seems to have given Greenport a fresh perspective on its season, not to mention a .500 record.
That was the plan for the Porters heading into this week. Greenport took three games from The Stony Brook School to complete a sweep of the four-game Suffolk County League IX series. With an 18-4 win over the Bears on Friday at Greenport High School, the Porters brought their record to 4-4, overall and in the league. They also saw life injected into their offense and the emergence of one of their bright young players, freshman Matt Drinkwater.
Sure, inexperienced Stony Brook could be looked at as an easy mark, but three straight wins are three straight wins. Following a season-opening victory over Stony Brook, Greenport lost its next three games, and its offense was sagging. In that sense, the final three games of the series came at the right time for the Porters. They found their bats and outscored Stony Brook, 70-16, in the four games.
“Our offense was on this series pretty good,” Greenport shortstop Mark Pagano said. “We were taking pitches, working counts.”
Greenport has also found that it has a player in Drinkwater who can hit.
Drinkwater drove in five runs on Friday, giving him 15 runs batted in from the four games Greenport played against Stony Brook.
“He came into his own this series,” Greenport coach Chris Golden said. “Whenever you have runners in scoring position, obviously your job is to knock them in, and he’s doing that, so he’s doing his job at the plate. … He’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing. He’s putting the bat on the ball. He’s hitting the ball hard.”
And he isn’t the only one.
Greenport’s leadoff hitter, Pagano, went 4 for 4 with two RBI, three runs scored, a walk and a stolen base on Friday. Matt Drinkwater’s twin brother, John, also had two RBI, and Brian Tuthill scored four runs for the Porters.
Austin Hooks (1-0) picked up the win. The sophomore right-hander gave up four hits and one earned run over five innings. Pagano and John Drinkwater then each pitched an inning of hitless relief.
“Now we’re back at .500,” Matt Drinkwater said. “We’re doing what we can. We’re really playing some good baseball out there.”
Don Liotine went 2 for 2 with two walks, a run, an RBI and a stolen base for Stony Brook (0-9, 0-8).
The Bears were without one of their players, Cooper Wang, who sustained what coach Kyle Cavanaugh said was a slight concussion three days earlier against Greenport when he was apparently clipped accidentally in the head by Tuthill’s heel while fielding a bunt.
Greenport blew open Friday’s game early, striking for 12 runs in the bottom of the first inning. The Porters drew seven walks that inning and benefitted from four Stony Brook errors. By the end of the first inning, Matt Drinkwater already had four RBI, three of them coming when he ripped a triple over left fielder Robbie Sequeira’s head. It was one of only two hits by Greenport during the rally.
Golden took the opportunity Friday to allow two players, Willie Riggins and Wilson Morales, to make their varsity debuts. Earlier in the week, Tim Stevens played in his first varsity game.
“It’s good to give those guys a little bit of experience,” said Golden.
Looking ahead to a tougher upcoming schedule, John Drinkwater knows better than to make too much out of the wins over Stony Brook. “I think it’s big, but we can’t really let this series get to our heads,” he said. “We got to come back and play good baseball the next series.”
Still, many of the Porters got a lot of at-bats in the final three games against Stony Brook. Golden said players are settling into roles, looking comfortable and confident. “I’m hoping that we can parlay this into a good second half of the year,” he said.
He isn’t the only one.
“Now we’re back in contention,” Pagano said. “We’re a better unit. We work better together and we know who can do what in certain situations.”
A three-game winning streak helped.