By Mitch Silver
Even as Rye lined up to take on Lakeland High at Disbrow Park March 31, things were wacky. For one thing, Rye batted first.
The game was a make-up of one that was postponed three days earlier, when the Hornets’ diamond proved to be so wet it was unplayable. Garnet Coach Mike Bruno invited his opposite number to drive down and be the “home team” at Feeley Field.
Which is how Rye let in the first run in the <bottom> of the first. Starting pitcher Declan Lavelle grabbed a pop-out and then struck out the next two batters, but a dropped third strike and another dropped throw to first let the runner escape. It went downhill from there: Lavelle hit the cleanup hitter with a pitch. Unnerved, he walked the next two batters to force in the game’s first run before righting the ship with the inning’s third K. Lakeland had another chance to score in the second frame, but Sean Thompson at third grabbed a hot liner with a runner on.
The Garnets finally got on the board in the top of the third. Two walks sandwiched around outs brought co-captain Jared Olbrys to the plate. He wasn’t there long, slamming a liner to the centerfield wall for a bases-clearing triple. Olbrys was awarded home when the throw from the outfield wound up in Rye’s dugout. Rye 3, Lakeland 1.
A huge home run to lead off the bottom half of the inning sliced Rye’s lead in half and sent Coach Bruno onto the field to take off Thompson, his third baseman and fireballing reliever, so he could warm up. Lavelle, though, escaped without further damage.
The fourth inning was another story. Co-captain Andy Bach drove a two-out double down the right field line but died on second. The Hornets then put their first two hitters on, and a sharply hit fielder’s choice moved them up. A warmed-up Thompson replaced Lavelle on the mound. He struck out the first batter he faced, but a single between short and third brought in the tying run when a rundown play on the relay was late to the plate. Thompson yielded an intentional walk before a strikeout brought the threat to a close.
In the top of the fifth, Finn Westerink singled and stole second and third. After two were gone, Olbrys drew a walk and Thompson helped his own cause with a single that made it through the infield.
The Garnets’ reliever looked sharp in the fifth and sixth, setting down Lakeland on four strikeouts while yielding only a lone base on balls. He helped his own cause in the top of the seventh, driving in Olbrys with a bad-hop single past first. It was an insurance run Rye would be thankful they had.
Lakeland’s last licks started ominously as Thompson walked the first batter and gave up a single to the second. A fly to left and a strikeout looking left two on with two out. And then…disaster! Thompson bobbled a soft comebacker that would have ended things. Instead, it scored a run and sent the tying run to third. Would the young reliever buckle under the pressure?
Nope. Sean Thompson calmly struck out Lakeland’s left fielder looking to end the game and give “the visitors” a crazy 5-4 victory in front of the Rye fans.
At press time, Rye was 2-0 and top-ranked in Class A. They hosted John Jay-Cross River yesterday and will travel to Glover Field to take on Pelham today at 4:30 p.m.
Fireman Sean Thompson strikes out the final Lakeland batter looking.