Southold coach Mike Carver had to chuckle before Thursday’s Long Island Class C baseball final when he noticed that it was the last game in his scorebook. It turned out to be the last game of the year for his team.
If Carver was the superstitious sort, he would have seen it as a bad omen. The real problem for Southold, though, was as obvious as the “1” on the scoreboard at the Suffolk County Police Athletic League Complex in Holbrook. That number represented Southold’s hit total for the game and also had a lot to do with the “0” noting Southold’s run total.
In the end, it added up to a 3-0 loss for the Suffolk County champions to East Rockaway. It was Southold’s only loss to a Class C team this year.
Ryan Kelly pitched a one-hit shutout as East Rockaway (11-9) claimed its second Long Island championship, earning a place in the Southeast Region final. The Rocks will play Saturday against either North Salem or Pine Plains at Arlington High School or Cantine Field in Saugerties.
East Rockaway coach James Hickey picked up his first Long Island title, but lost his wedding ring in the process. After Hickey received a Gatorade bath by home plate following the game, players, coaches and others scoured the field, looking for the ring that had fallen off Hickey’s finger during infield/outfield practice. By the time Hickey and his players headed for the team bus, the ring had still not been found.
What will his wife, Gina, say?
“She’s a good sport,” he said. “At least I have a decent excuse.”
But there was no excuse for Southold’s inability to push some runs across the plate. The First Settlers hit 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, stranding seven runners. Southold scored 127 runs this year, but none in its final game.
“They had their game today and we didn’t,” Southold shortstop Pat McFarland said. “No excuses.”
Of course, Kelly had a lot to do with that. The senior righthander showed himself to be something of an escape artist.
After an error and a pair of walks loaded the bases for Southold (18-5) in the first inning, Kelly got some help from his catcher, Jacob Barth, who made a nice sliding catch of a foul ball in front of the backstop to end the inning without any damage. In the sixth, Kelly issued walks to the first two batters before retiring the next three.
“The biggest thing is he’s mentally tough,” Hickey said of Kelly, who had six walks and six strikeouts.
Southold had a tough pitcher going, too, in Dylan Clausen. Clausen, a lefty, went the full seven innings as well, striking out eight and walking one.
East Rockaway managed eight hits off Clausen, three of them coming in the first. Kelly poked a soft first-pitch single, Nick Ippolito took an inside pitch for a double and a bloop single by Mike Acampora fell in shallow right field for an early 1-0 lead.
In the fifth, East Rockaway extended its advantage to 3-0. Chris Deptulski slugged a double over right fielder Matt Cardi and Kelly singled. They both scored when Mike DelGais swatted a single to right.
Meanwhile, Southold struggled to generate offense. The First Settlers’ only hit came with one out in the fifth when a fly by Adam Baldwin landed within feet of both the center fielder, Deptulski, and right fielder Christian Barto.
Kelly retired the side in order in the seventh, and then East Rockaway hats and gloves flew in the air. While the Rocks celebrated, all the Southolders could do was watch. For them there would be no repeat of a state semifinal.
“It definitely hurts being stopped here and not making that journey again like we did last year,” said McFarland.
And what if Southold had won? What would Carver had done for a scorebook?
He said, “I had another one waiting for Saturday.”
Photo caption: Southold’s Joe Hayes steals second base as East Rockaway shortstop Jorge Hazim leaps to catch the throw. (Credit: Garret Meade)