The Garnets celebrate a 5-4 victory.
Rye High Baseball
Garnets Walk Off, Literally, in Playoff Win Over Byram Hills
By Mitch Silver
The vagaries of high school baseball are such that more games are lost by one side than are won outright by the other team. Dropped flies, bobbled grounders, missed cut-off men, wild pitches—Rye’s thrilling win over Byram Hills by 5-4 Saturday in the Class A semifinals at Disbrow Park was a classic example. Even before Henry Friedrich was walked with the bases loaded to score the winning run in the bottom of the seventh, the teams combined to commit three errors apiece.
For example, in the top of the fourth with Rye up 2-1, shortstop Declan Lavelle couldn’t come up with a short grounder, moving the Bobcat runner who had opened the frame with a double over to third. Sean Thompson’s wild pitch gave them two in scoring position. A ground out scored one, and a deep fly to center plated the other. Byram Hills 3, Rye 2.
Lavelle made amends in the bottom half when, with runners on first and third, he sliced a short fly the Bobcat left fielder couldn’t reach. When Finn Westerink was hit by a pitch, it loaded the bases. The visitors avoided a big inning when Sean Thompson’s screaming liner was caught, doubling Lavelle off second.
In the top of the sixth, sophomore centerfielder Aidan Sullivan lost a fly in the sun. Senior Jason Ciardiello, on in relief of Thompson, gave up a hard-hit double to center, the unearned run inching Byram Hills ahead once more.
The home half saw Ciardiello double to right before catcher Alex Noga—trying to bunt on the first two offerings after reaching safely on his first two at-bats—struck out. Lavelle popped out to short left. Westerink blooped one over first for a single, but Ciardiello was thrown out at the plate in a cloud of dust.
Rye took their last licks with the scoreboard still reading 4-3 Byram. Thompson, who’d moved over to third, smashed a line drive single. Ahearne walked and Sullivan, looking to move up the runners, bunted back to the pitcher, who threw wildly to third. That tied the game.
Ahearne stole third. When C.J. Nemsick was hit by a pitch, it loaded the bases for Friedrich. He worked the count to three-and-two before drawing the pass that decided the game. Ciardiello would get the win after working three innings of one-hit ball, striking out four.
The second-seeded Garnets move on to face top-ranked Lakeland and their ace pitcher, Joey Vetrano, who was just named by Gatorade as the New York State Player of the Year. They’ll meet at noon at Granite Knolls Park in Mohegan Lake for a berth in the Class A championship. Meanwhile, the Bobcats face Nyack in the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination format being used for the first time.