The East Hampton High School softball team was within one out of handing Erin Abran her first career coaching victory as the sun was sinking in the sky on Monday, but Sayville, the league leader, which trailed 4-2 at the time, was to live to play another day, and for another two at-bats.
Finally, with darkness pretty much having descended following Meghan Hess’s clutch two-out, game-tying single up the middle in the bottom of the ninth, the umpires decided to resume the 5-5 agon in the top of the 10th at 5 p.m. Tuesday with a Sayville runner at second base.
“That’s softball,” Abran told her charges in the huddle afterward. “I’m really proud of you. You left it all on the field today. Well, almost. You’ve got to come back tomorrow and finish the job.”
Since the team’s veteran head coach, Lou Reale, was suspended for the remainder of the season because of a scheduling error, the team had been struggling. It went into Monday’s game having lost three in a row, to Hauppauge, Shoreham-Wading River, and Islip.
Hauppauge “mercied” the Bonackers soon after they had been vouchsafed the news that their coach, who has more than 400 career wins, had been suspended. They then went on to lose 3-2 at Shoreham and by one run, as well, at Islip.
But while they had not been lucky of late, the girls were back to their buoyant selves here Monday, taking it to the league-leading Golden Flashes from the get-go.
Casey Waleko, East Hampton’s imperturbable ninth-grade ace, struck out the side in the top of the first inning, and then Kathryn Hess, leading off that day, greeted Melissa Selts with a single to right, and Waleko followed with a roped double to center to score her catcher with the game’s first run.
Sayville tied it in the top of the third on a two-out line drive double to left by Selts that scored Sayville’s leadoff hitter, Kira Karl, who had begun the inning with a double and had advanced to third on a pitcher-to-first groundout.
With one out in the bottom half Waleko drew a walk, and Tess Talmage came in to run for her. Deryn Hahn then scorched a Selts fastball, but right at the second baseman, Jackie Christenson. Talmage barely made it back to the bag. That brought up Meghan Hess, who singled softly just under the shortstop Emily Seletti’s glove, putting runners at first and second for Sam Mathews, who after going down 0-2 in the count jumped on a Selts fastball, sending it high over the left-field fence 200 feet away.
“That’s gone,” Selts’s father was heard to say when the ball left Mathews’s bat. The entire dugout cleared to greet Mathews at the plate.
That 4-1 lead was to hold up until the top of the sixth when Sayville mounted a serious threat. The first three batters to face Waleko, beginning with the cleanup hitter, Kathleen Maehr, each singled to load the bases.
After Waleko disposed of a pinch-hitter via a called third strike, Olivia Kaczmarek lofted a sacrifice fly to center field that made it 4-2, but Waleko, with runners at second and third (a passed ball having enabled them to move up), struck out Christenson to get out of the jam.
East Hampton was thwarted in trying to pad its lead in the bottom of the sixth as Meghan Hess, who had led off with a single, was thrown out at the plate in trying to score on Mathews’s subsequent double to the center-field fence. Mathews, who advanced to third on the throw home, was replaced on the basepaths by Ciera Kenney, but Kenney was stranded there as Selts retired Amanda Thompson and Courtney Dess on groundouts.
With Hahn, East Hampton’s third baseman, looking on helplessly, a bunt by Karl that began Sayville’s seventh came to rest on the third-base line.
Waleko then got two big outs, retiring Seletti on a pop to Maysie Makrianes at second and Selts on a popout to Hahn. But Maehr pasted Waleko’s first pitch to her to the fence in right, scoring Karl with Sayville’s third run, and another opposite field line drive to right drove in Maehr with the game-tying run. Sayville’s dugout and its jayvee team, which had recently arrived, were in full cry, but the score remained 4-4 as Thompson, who had almost lost control of Hahn’s throw from across the diamond, reached out to tag the first-base bag before Nicole Petillo, Sayville’s designated hitter, arrived.
Makrianes narrowly beat out a slapped grounder to short in leading off the bottom of the seventh. Dana Dragone’s sacrifice sent her to second. Kathryn Hess then lined a single over the second-base bag, but Makrianes was called out when Waleko’s ground ball toward short hit her, and Hahn, with runners at first and second and two out, flied out to center, sending the game into extra innings.
Sayville had a runner at second with one out in the top of the eighth, but East Hampton held.
East Hampton had a runner at second with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, but Sayville held.
The visitors went up 5-4 in the top of the ninth on a fly ball two-out single to left center that plated Maehr, who had drawn Waleko’s sole walk of the afternoon and had advanced to second as the result of a sacrifice bunt. Waleko retired the side on a second-to-first groundout.
Dragone struck out to begin East Hampton’s ninth, but Kathryn Hess singled and Waleko reached safely when Hess avoided a force at second by kicking the ball out of the shortstop’s glove. That brought up Hahn, who, with the sun having vanished behind the treeline, flied out to right.
Meghan Hess followed with the aforementioned clutch r.b.i. single up the middle to tie the score at 5-5. Selts hit Mathews with a pitch, loading the bases for Thompson, but she grounded out third-to-first for the third out, prompting the gathering of umpires and coaches in the encroaching darkness.
It was 8 o’clock by then (the game began an hour later than scheduled) and everyone agreed that the teams had played enough for that day.