Casey Waleko, the East Hampton High School softball team’s pitcher, had an almost-perfect (no hits, one walk) game going through the first six and two-thirds innings of a crossover game here with Islip on May 2 when, in coach Lou Reale’s words, “the wheels came off.”
Though the Bonackers were to commit four errors in the final two frames on their way to a 4-2 loss — all of the visitors’ runs were unearned — Reale said he was to blame.
“It just shows that I’ve got to do a better job of coaching, of getting them prepared,” he said in reviewing his missteps, which included calling for a screwball in the top of the sixth that a left-handed hitter lined past Bonac’s shortstop, Ali Harned — a two-out, two-run double that drove in runners from second and third base and tied the score.
The visitors’ sixth began with a dropped fly ball in left. Waleko struck out the next two batters — her seventh and eighth strikeouts of the game — but her subsequent throw to first base after having fielded a little nubber hit her way went wide of Ceire Kenny, the second baseman, who was covering on the play.
Reale said later he should have had Waleko, with the count 1-2, jam the lefty, but called instead for the fateful screwball. The hard liner enabled Islip to tie the score as its dugout erupted.
Kenny retired the side with a nice running catch of a foul fly off the first-base line.
East Hampton came up empty in the bottom of the sixth as a home run bid by Sam Mathews was caught — barely, there was a lot of ball showing — at the center-field fence 205 feet away from home plate.
Things continued to go south in the top of the seventh. After the first batter was thrown out second-to-first, the next lofted a pop fly behind and to the left of second that was dropped amid the confusion, and the next hitter singled over third — Islip’s second hit of the afternoon.
It looked as if the Bonackers might escape unscathed, but with two outs another error led to the visitors’ third run, and an infield hit plated the fourth. A flyout to left ended the inning.
Ilsa Brzezinski, the first baseman, led off East Hampton’s seventh with a booming double to the right-field fence. She took third when Cecelia Fioriello, pinch-hitting for Courtney Dess, bounced the ball just in front of the plate and was thrown out by the catcher. Harned, after working the count to 2-2, watched a third strike fly by for out number two. That brought up Dana Dragone, East Hampton’s senior left-handed leadoff hitter, prompting the visitors’ coach to confer with his pitcher, Vanessa Juengerkes.
When play resumed, Dragone made good contact, but her line drive was gathered in by the Buccaneers’ shortstop, a catch that sealed the victory.
“They’re a good team,” Reale said. “They made the plays when they had to. There was that catch at the fence in center on the ball Sam hit, and then, in the fifth, their right fielder made a shoestring catch of a drive by Casey that would have scored Deryn [Hahn],” who had singled sharply after two were out, and who was rounding third when the catch was made.
East Hampton outhit Islip 8-3, though that went for naught given the visitors’ four unearned runs.
“We had runners in scoring position four times and didn’t score, though I’ll take the blame for that,” said Reale. “Casey did a great job — we just have to learn how to finish these games.”
East Hampton scored its first run in the third as Dragone, who had singled with two outs, came all the way around on a rap to right by Hahn. Hahn was stranded at third, though, as Waleko popped out to first.
The Bonackers made it 2-0 in the fourth. Kathryn Hess, the catcher, who was to make two nifty catches of foul balls behind the plate in the fifth, singled to lead off, after which Ellie Cassel bunted down the third-base line with the count 0-1. Caught by surprise, Islip’s catcher threw the ball into right field, which allowed Hess to score and Cassel to advance to second.
Cassel remained there, however, as Mathews popped out to second, Brzezinski grounded out short-to-first, and as Dess popped out to first.
It was only the second loss of the season for the Bonackers, who, going into it, were tied with Sayville for the League VI lead. Islip continued as the League V leader at 11-2 — the same record as East Hampton’s as of last Thursday morning.
“It won’t get any easier,” said Reale, whose team as of last Thursday had regular-season games yet to play with Westhampton Beach, Rocky Point, Shoreham-Wading River, Sayville, and Miller Place.