Coaches Can’t Wait For 2012 Season

‘Our goal was to make the playoffs, and we did’
A.J. Bennett, with home runs in the sixth and seventh innings, accounted for six of East Hampton’s seven runs in the playoff opener here with Islip. Jack Graves

    East Hampton High’s baseball team finished the season at 11-11 all told last week, losing playoff games to Islip, in extra innings, and to Bayport-Blue Point.
    “Our goal,” said Will Collins, who assisted Ed Bahns in coaching the team, “was to make the playoffs, and we did. Once in them you want to go as far as you can, but unfortunately things didn’t go our way, especially in the game with Islip. But we had 12 juniors on the squad this year, so Coach Bahns and I are already looking forward to next year.”
    East Hampton finished 10-8 in league play, 11-9 counting the nonleaguers it played, and, as aforesaid, 11-11 with the playoff losses figured in.
    Collins said he’s hoping to field a mainly East Hampton entry in one of the summer leagues so as to keep his and Bahns’s younger players sharp.
    East Hampton carried four seniors this season, and Dylan Carroza, the team’s frontline pitcher, who finished with a 6-1 record, the best here in some time, will particularly be missed.
    Carroza made his first appearance at home this season on May 24 in the opening-round playoff game with Islip, but, unable to throw his curve for strikes — “it was either breaking too soon or too late,” said Collins — he gave up six runs and 13 hits over the course of six innings.
    Ironically, A.J. Bennett, whose three-run homers in the sixth and seventh innings kept East Hampton in the game, and who relieved Carroza in the seventh, was tagged with the 8-7 loss.
    East Hampton got on the scoreboard first when Riley McMahon, who had come in to run for Frank Grande following the latter’s leadoff single in the top of the third, and who had advanced to second on Michael Abreu’s sacrifice bunt, scored when Brandon Brophy’s two-out high pop in front of the plate went unclaimed.
    That 1-0 lead held up until the top of the fourth when a two-out single by Mike Grudzinski, who hit eighth in the Buccaneers’ order, drove in Tyler Murphy from third.
    The visitors added two more in the fifth on four hits, one of them a leadoff home run (one of six hit that day) over the left-center field fence by R.J. Going, the third baseman.
    Islip made it 6-1 in the top of the sixth, on another home run by Going, this one a two-run shot, and a home run by the third hitter in the lineup, Eric Purchacki.
    By that point, it looked rather grim for East Hampton, which Islip’s starter, Matt Busch, had limited to five hits, all singles.
    Deilyn Guzman, who led off the bottom of the sixth for the Bonackers, greeted Busch with a long double to the center-field fence, and Cameron Yusko followed with a single to short. With runners at the corners, A.J. Bennett, who bats left and throws right, drove an opposite-field home run over the fence in left-center, pulling East Hampton to 6-4.
    Maykell Guzman then popped out to second, and, after Carroza drew a walk, the first Busch had given up that day, Grande was thrown out trying to leg out a bunt, and Abreu struck out.
    Bennett was brought in to relieve Carroza in the top of the seventh. The first batter to face him, Murphy, jumped on a slow 1-1 curve and hit it over the fence. Bennett then retired Ryan Feminella, the designated hitter, on a comebacker, and erased Busch on a third-to-first groundout before grazing Grudzinski with a pitch. Joe Giuliani was brought in to pinch-hit at that point, but Bennett struck him out to end the inning.
    Ryan Joudeh, East Hampton’s catcher, drove a long fly to straightaway center in leading off Bonac’s seventh, but Murphy ran it down. Brophy then was thrown out short-to-first, but, with two outs, Deilyn Guzman lined a double to the fence in left-center, Yusko was walked on a 3-2 pitch, and Bennett again came through big time, driving a 2-2 pitch over the left-center field fence to tie the score at 7-7 and setting off a gleeful celebration at home plate. Busch then struck out Maykell Guzman for the third out of the inning, but, thanks to Bennett’s heroics, it was a brand-new ballgame.
    Going, who had already homered twice, faced Bennett in leading off the visitors’ eighth, and Bennett walked him on four pitches, all off the outside corner of the plate. With Purchacki up, Going went for second, but Joudeh’s throw sailed over Deilyn Guzman’s head into center field, and Going went on to third, from which he scored the go-ahead run on Purchacki’s 1-3 nubber toward the mound.
    When Jacob Seymour, the shortstop, followed with a base hit to center, Bahns replaced Bennett with Maykell Guzman, moved Bennett back to first, and brought in Jim McMullan to replace Grande at second. With the number-four hitter, Wilfredo Vega, up, Seymour tried to steal second, but to no avail as Joudeh’s throw to McMullan arrived well in time.
    Vega then drew a walk, but, with the count full, Guzman induced Murphy to ground out second-to-first.
    “We need runners — any way we can,” Bahns was heard to say as Carroza headed toward the plate in the bottom of the eighth. But Busch struck out Carroza on a 2-2 pitch, and then retired McMullan and Abreu on groundouts to send the Buccaneers home 8-7 winners.
    As of Monday, Class A’s top three seeds, Sayville, Shoreham-Wading River, and Elwood-John Glenn, were still alive in the double-elimination tournament, as was sixth-seeded Mount Sinai.
    As a result of the narrow loss on May 24, East Hampton played at Bayport-Blue Point last Thursday, the Phantoms having lost their opener to Shoreham.
    “Bayport’s a good-hitting team,” Col­lins reported afterward. “They don’t have sluggers, but they’re scrappy, they put the ball in play.”
    A four-run fourth did the Bonackers in as Bayport went on to win 5-1. Asked to recount that fourth inning, Collins said, “A walk, a triple, a single, an error, and some more hits.”
    Maykell Guzman, the hard-throwing sophomore, pitched for East Hampton that day. The Bonackers scored their lone run in the top of the fourth as Deilyn Guzman, Yusko, and Bennett (who got the r.b.i.) hit back-to-back-to-back singles.
    Before signing off, Collins said that Carroza had been named to the all-county team, and that Deilyn Guzman, Maykell Guzman, Yusko, and Joudeh had been named to the all-league team.
    “It was a good season,” said Collins, who has reason to believe that it will be an even better one next year.