By Rick Murphy
It's been a steaming hot July, and Center Moriches has been on fire in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.
The Battlecats have surged to a three game lead by winning six in a row in as many days. The streak started on July 1, when CM held off the visiting Sag Harbor Whalers 3-2, scoring all the runs in the bottom of the eighth courtesy of a Paschal Petrongolo home run, his fourth of the season. Steve Sarcone earned the win.
The next day Collin Orellano, a native of Ridge, hurled 6 1/3 innings of one hit ball as his team beat Shelter Island, 6-0. Stefan Trosclair had two hits and two ribbies for the winners and Orellano recorded 12 strikeouts.
Last Wednesday Center Moriches drubbed the North Fork, 12-7. Charles Galiano (two homers this season), Mike Roehrig (2) and Nick Nunziato (2). Friday, the Battlecats prevailed in both ends of an epic doubleheader at home against Riverhead.
The opener was filled with enough twists and turns to fill a detective novel. The Battlecats came up with four runs in the ninth to knot the score at 14 but the Tomcats scored in the top of the 10th to take the lead again. Center Moriches, playing at home, came back with two runs to win it. Dan Roland had the tying hit, a single, and then Galiano singled to push the winning run home. The game had been suspended earlier in the month and concluded Friday.
Andre Jernigan launched his first homer of the season for the losers and knocked in five runs. Tyler Fox homered, his third, and totaled three ribbies. Zach Persky went 3-5 with three ribbies and a home run, his first, for the Battlecats.
Center Moriches took the nightcap, 3-1. Mike O'Reilly gave up one run over six innings and struck out seven to earn the W. Petrongolo and Persky delivered critical hits for the winners. The Tomcats dropped to 14-12 on the season.
In other action Friday Westhampton edged North Fork 8-6 on the loser's field. Down early, the Aviators chipped away from a three-run deficit. Ryan Spaulding plated two runs with an eighth inning double and Mitch Montaldo put it away with a homer in the ninth.
Westhampton chipped away at a three-run deficit midway through the game and eventually broke through, plating two in the eighth and one in the ninth to defeat the host Ospreys. Darius Washington, who has been on fire for the Ospreys, drilled three more hits. Tyler Bethune and Michael Fries also had three-hit games for the losers. Westhampton moved into second place with a 13-11 mark; North Fork is 10-16 after losing three straight.
Riverhead's Jerry Downs has gone deep five times and leads the league thus far. Galliano (24), Moore (23), and Petronogolo (21) are 1-2-3 in the ribbies race and three big reasons the Battlecats are on a roll. Downs has scored 21 runs, one more than Jack Sundberg of the North Fork, who leads the league with 22 steals. Charlie Gould (.348) and Jake Farr 9.347), both of whom play for the Tomcats, are one-two in the batting race.
Brendan Mulligan (3-0, 1,11 ERA) of Riverhead, who plays for Hofstra, and Jim Ploeger (3-0 1.28) are the pitching leaders. Sag Harbor's Jacob Bodener has record nine saves and his teammate John Nicklas leads the HCBBL with 34 strikeouts.