By Mitch Silver
It could have been worse.
Brooklyn’s Poly Prep left 13 runners on base when they visited Rye Country Day last Saturday. That’s a lot in a seven-inning game. Of course, so are 21 runs. To give up an average of three runs an inning, you have to walk 15 batters. Check. And commit six errors. The Wildcats did that, too. Suffice it to say, it was not a Rye Country Day…day.
In fact, it was not a Rye Country Day weekend. Twenty-four hours earlier, they fell to King School by 6-1. All in all, it wasn’t a fun time for first-year Wildcat Head Coach Pat Ahearne.
Still, there were life lessons to be taught. How to keep your head up when you’re down. And how to play the game the right way when you’re way, way up.
Consider: Outfielder Billy O’Meara was pressed into service on the mound with the game already out of hand after Michael DiCaprio and Noah Rosenthal were ineffective earlier. With a runner on in the sixth inning, he gave up an enormous gopher ball that sailed onto the football field at least 40 feet past the left field fence. The Poly Prep boy, who’d just put his team up 15-5 with that wallop, flipped his bat a good dozen feet in the air and styled his way up the first-base line before breaking into a leisurely home run trot.
The first-base line is precisely where the home team’s dugout is, and the Rye Country Day subs let him know they didn’t much care for the bat flip. Neither did first baseman Owen Coady, who decided to station himself in the base path between first and second and force Mr. Wonderful to run around him.
Words were exchanged, along with a shove or two. That’s when Poly’s head coach ran on to the field from his third-base coaching box to break up the fight that actually wasn’t. When cooler heads prevailed, the umps tossed the coach and the game continued to its lopsided end.
Afterwards, Coach Ahearne talked with his boys. “I reminded them that sportsmanship is a big part of playing the game. Obviously, so are emotions. But, if I’ve learned one thing in this game, baseball doesn’t discriminate. You can hit a big home run today, and strike out in an equally big moment tomorrow.
“These kids are learning how to conduct themselves properly in the game. And beyond, in life.”
The 4-3 Wildcats played another hardball powerhouse, Hamden Hall, post-press time. They travel to Brunswick this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. before hosting Berkeley Carroll tomorrow at 1.