May 03, 2006
Waves Making A Big Splash In Standings
A little more than two weeks ago, the Riverhead varsity baseball team was staring straight in the face of a 1-3 record in League IV, an inauspicious start to say the least for a talented Blue Waves squad that has grown accustomed to qualifying for the playoffs.
But just as quickly as an early warm spring day can change into a brisk, chilly evening, Riverhead has turned its poor start into a five-game winning streak that culminated with a three-game sweep of the Deer Park Falcons this week.
The Falcons (6-6 in League IV), entered the series with the Waves in second place in the league standings only to slip to fourth after suffering three consecutive losses starting on April 25. Riverhead prevailed 8-6 after Steven Cumberbatch's clutch RBI single in the top of the seventh inning snapped a 6-6 tie. Earlier in the inning, Rob Allen had delivered a two-run single, tying the game at 6-6.
Jimmy Senatore, one of the Waves' top hitters this season, was also a major force in the game, going 3-for-3 with two RBI. Mike O'Donnell, who had lost his first two starts this season, pitched well enough to record his first victory of the year.
"We're getting hitting from everybody right now," Waves' head coach Scott Hackal said. "From one-to-eight, our lineup is hitting. And then, no matter what player I put ninth in the batting order, they seem to have a good game. Whether we need a big hit or a sacrifice, they seem to have no problems getting it done."
Then last Wednesday, Riverhead continued its late-inning heroics with Kevin Curtis hitting a deep, booming RBI double to the outfield gap with two out in the bottom of the sixth inning to tie the game at 6-6. Rich Vlacci (2-for-4) then followed with a hard-hit single to score Curtis as the Waves won 7-6, much to the delight of the Riverhead fans in attendance at Pulaski Street Field.
Vlacchi (3-0) was also the winning pitcher, picking up his third victory of the season.
Dan Kent, a junior who spent all of last season on the junior varsity, made the most of his start last Wednesday, delivering a long three-run home run, his first of the season. "Dan's one of the players that have been stepping up for us," said Hackal. "He's gone 4-for-7 and has come through with three pinch hits for us this season. You can't ask for more than that."
Last Friday, the Waves competed their three-game sweep with their best played game of the week, winning 6-2 behind the sparkling pitching of Mark Miloski (3-0 this season) and the ferocious hitting of Vlacci, who went a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with three runs batted in.
"We've already played our toughest games and we've done pretty good, so we're looking to win the next one, qualify for the playoffs, and then concentrate on a good finish so that we're not stuck with a bad seed like last season," said Hackal.
Riverhead (6-3) has now won its last five league games and in the process, has moved from sixth place in the League IV standings all the way up to third place. The determined Waves trail only Half Hollow Hills West (8-2) and North Babylon (10-2), but more important, are only three wins away from clinching yet another playoff spot. Not bad for a team that started 1-3.
The Waves play at second place Half Hollow Hills West Colts in game two of their three-game series today before concluding the series on Friday (4 p.m.) at Pulaski Street Field.