Sheppard Griffiths pitched five innings for the win.
Garnets Thump Hen Island, 13-3, in Playoff Opener
By Mitch Silver
Head Coach Mike Bruno’s Rye High Baseball team had a relatively easy time with Hendrick Hudson High May 17 at Disbrow Park. The second-ranked Garnets had already defeated the 15th-seeded Sailors in Class A play earlier in the season by a 9-2 score. But this time the visitors had something up their sleeves.
After Rye senior Derek Woods scorched a pitch over the right-field fence in the bottom of the first inning and classmate Jack Margiloff walloped another offering to deepest center, Hen Hud made a pitching change. The lefty who came on induced Jackson Fowle to hit a liner on which their shortstop made a leaping catch.
Rye sophomore Shep Griffiths had a three-up, three-down second inning. And then the fun began. With two on and two out in the home half, the Sailors went back to their original pitcher. When he began to warm up, Coach Bruno came out to protest. He told the umpires that a pitcher who returns to the mound doesn’t have the option to warm up a second time. Because the umps didn’t have a rule book at the game, they spent ten minutes talking it over.
When play resumed, sophomore Dillion Schmidt drew a walk, filling the bases. Senior Ryan Surhoff then hit a sharp single to left, plating two.
The visitors mounted a rally in the top of the third, helped along by a couple of bases on balls. A line single to left scored a run and a sacrifice fly to right scored another. Rye rebuilt their margin (and then some) in the bottom of the third inning on some power hitting. Margiloff stroked a double down the left-field line and Griffiths boomed another Rye homer over the left field fence. Junior Julian Pasquale slammed a double over the centerfielder’s head, senior Tillman Ball drew a walk, Schmidt placed a single just past the shortstop, loading the bases, and Surhoff hit a two-RBI double to left. Woods got a single to right to stretch the Garnets’ lead to 9-2.
Griffiths retired the Sailors in the fourth 1-2-3, but in the fifth inning he hit the first batter. A single and a ground-out put runners on first and third. The next batter hit a ball to Surhoff at third. When the runner broke for home, Surhoff ran him down before he could score. Good thing too, because the next guy up singled to right, just barely scoring Hen Hud’s third run. But Pasquale made a throw on the money to Surhoff at third to get a runner trying to take liberties.
Woods slammed his second home run of the game (after fouling off a bunt) in the home fifth. Tyler Winderman took the mound in the sixth, yielding two singles but not allowing a run. Then, in Rye’s sixth inning with the home team up 10-3, the Garnets scored three more runs to invoke the 10-run mercy rule. Their rally was highlighted by one of the strangest hits ninth grader Jake Kessner will ever get. He hit a windblown pop fly that fell safely next to first base for the team’s 11th run. And he scored on Surhoff’s third hit of the game, a two-RBI base knock to left field that ended the game.
Afterwards, Coach Bruno was relieved that his team had won. “The first playoff game is always the tough one,” he said. “No matter what your record is, everybody’s always a little tight.”