It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Coach Mike Bruno and the Rye Garnets baseball squad. After starting the season with two wins and two losses, Rye has lost five of its last six games, putting them four games below .500.
By Michael Gilbert
It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Coach Mike Bruno and the Garnets baseball squad. After starting the season with two wins and two losses, Rye has lost five of its last six games, putting them four games below .500. The Garnets are now 3-7 with their next game Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Horace Greeley.
The losing skid started with a first round loss to Blind Brook in the four-team Port Chester tournament. Rye did follow up with a 13-4 win against the Port Chester Rams to finish the tournament in third place, but the damage had already been done. Rye lost the tournament for the first time in four years.
A home loss to Rye Neck High School put Rye at 3-5. The Huskies of Harrison then came to Rye, and Coach Bruno repeatedly stressed the importance to his team of the game and the monumental border-town rivalry. Freshman George Kirby pitched six strong innings against the Huskies, allowing one run to a dangerous Harrison offense. RBIs by designated hitter Connor Murphy and third baseman Trevor Johnson made the score 2-1. Then, in the bottom half of the sixth inning, right fielder Greg Hale tacked on two more runs with a base hit up the middle, pushing Rye’s lead to 4-1. Kirby came out to pitch the seventh inning, but gave up a leadoff single, prompting Bruno to make a controversial decision and turn to the bullpen. RHS proceeded to burn through four pitchers in the inning, as Harrison scored 11 runs. Rye lost a hard fought game 12-5.
Bruno defended the move to the team by stressing the importance of Kirby’s health, and the irresponsibility associated with leaving a pitcher in a game too long to suffer a possible arm injury. Kirby later said, “I really wanted to finish the game and get the win, but Coach cared more about my arm than getting the win, and took me out.”
At Harrison two days later, the Garnets sent freshman Ryan Anderson to the mound. Rye jumped out to an early 3-0 lead off of Harrison ace Luke Sassano. In the second inning, Garnets second baseman Griffin Tutun and Harrison center fielder Austin Pollack exchanged some heated words, fueling an already intense rivalry. Anderson held the Huskies to five runs over four innings. But Rye couldn’t jumpstart the offense after the first inning, as Sassano held Rye at three runs, and finished off the complete game, beating Rye by a score of 13-3. An interesting side note was Rye’s pitcher plunking Pollack in the later innings of the game, but it was clearly unintentional.
Coach Bruno repeatedly said after the game that his team played hard, and that the little things going wrong will eventually turn in the Garnet’s favor.
Things didn’t turn during the next game against Horace Greeley at home that sunk Rye to the 3-7 season mark. Trevor Johnson threw a decent game, but there were a few mental errors in the field.
Captain Greg Hale believes the team simply needs to “Come together and finish the season on a high note.” He added, “We’ll be playoff-bound.”
Rye needs two more wins to qualify for the Section playoffs, with ten games to go. However, they face some of the best competition in the area with a game at state runner-up Haldane, two games against Section 1 powerhouse Fox Lane, and a game against Ketcham High School. The pitching needs to improve to grab a playoff spot, specifically the bullpen. The defense needs to eliminate occasional mental blunders, and defense and defensive situations has been the focus at recent practices. If Rye can tighten up the defense, and can make some key pitches down the stretch, in addition to the team’s solid offense, it’s possible the Garnets can sneak its young team into the playoffs.