It was good news for East Hampton High’s baseball and softball teams Friday as both came away with wins, the boys defeating Pierson, a probable Class C playoff team, 3-1 in a nonleaguer, and the girls shutting out Westhampton Beach 9-0.
The girls’ win was their first of the season, after having dropped 16-4 and 4-2 decisions to Sayville and Miller Place earlier in the week.
Lou Reale, the girls’ coach, said his pitcher, Casey Waleko, fanned 15 Hurricanes that day, and that while East Hampton’s batters were kept off-balance by Westhampton’s slowball pitcher, they did enough at the plate to win.
“They made a lot of errors, so did we,” said Reale, adding that “Emma Norris [the sophomore right fielder] drove in two of our runs on a bloop single, and Avery Balnis [one of the team’s numerous ninth graders] lined a ball to the fence on one hop. . . . Our base-running wasn’t bad, though there was a lot of hesitation. There was a lot of hesitation at the plate too. I think they’re too worried about making mistakes. But they’re good kids, and they’re all working hard. They just need more game experience.”
At Sayville, he said, “we were up 3-0, and it could have been 5-0 if it weren’t for some base-running mistakes. Casey struck out four batters in the first two innings, but no more after that. She gave up 15 hits; they were teeing off on her. Ilsa [Brzezinski, the first baseman] hit the ball hard, and Dylan [Scheider, another ninth grader] had two hits and scored two runs.”
“We should have lost 1-0 at Miller Place, instead of 4-2,” the coach continued. Their pitcher had 11 strikeouts and seven of them were looking, and with runners in scoring position too, which must be some kind of record. That was terrible.”
Waleko, who “had been in control the whole game, served up two meatball changeups in the sixth, and that was it.”
“We had runners on second and third in the sixth and looked at a called third strike. These younger kids are swinging at balls and looking at strikes, which puts them in a hole. They’re not used to curves. They jump out of the way as the ball comes back across the plate. But they’ll learn. . . . I’d rather they close their eyes and swing! At least then they’d have a chance.”
Turning to baseball, Mike Ritsi, who last week took over as the head coach when R.J. Etzel, a recent hire, refused to accept a proffered suspension ostensibly for having not deleted expletives in dealings with his players, said his pitcher, Kyle McKee, who went all the way, “was terrific. He also singled in two runs in the sixth.”
As for East Hampton’s sixth, Ritsi said, “Dylan Lynch laid down a great sacrifice bunt that sent Ben [Newberry] to second. Then Danny Paige singled, putting runners at first and third. Danny stole second, Patrick Silich, our leadoff hitter [and catcher], grounded out, leaving us with runners at second and third and two out, and that’s when Kyle hit a shot into the left-center gap that scored both Ben and Danny.”
“Kyle went all seven innings and struck out seven — he showed a lot of resolve, which is what we’ll have to do all season because we’ll be in a lot of close games. Danny Paige made a great diving catch of a low line drive to right field with runners on in the top of the sixth, which was huge.”
Taking over the head coaching job will busy the already busy Ritsi, who manages Sportime’s arena in Amagansett, “but I enjoy it,” he said. “I’ve known these kids for years. I coached Patrick in basketball and Brendan [Hughes] in football, and Ben in baseball and football. . . . They’ll push themselves and I’ll push them. We need to meet halfway. I’m a competitor.”
Scott Abran, who was to have coached the East Hampton Middle School team, has come up to assist Ritsi with the varsity. “I’ve worked with him in coaching football, and I know he has a great baseball background too . . . he wants to win as well.”
“There’s been good energy the past few days,” Ritsi continued. “We needed that win over Pierson. It gave us some confidence.”
The team was to have played at Harborfields Monday, at Islip yesterday, and is to play at Rocky Point today — all nonleaguers. Ritsi said Mattituck is to scrimmage here Saturday morning, and that league play is to begin next week with Miller Place.