One of the most consistent teams in Section 1 this season comes from one of the smallest schools in the area. Rye Neck has been red-hot pretty much since the season started, and that continued with today’s 9-1 win at home over Irvington.
“It’s a really big team effort,” starting pitcher Matt Garcia said. “We have great pitching all around, we’ve gotten the bats working and our fielding has been great. Everybody has played their part in our wins.”
Garcia’s answer sounds generic, but he pretty much hit the nail on the head. The Panthers looked strong in every facet of the game today, eventually pulling away from the Bulldogs late after the game had been tied at 1-1 for a few innings.
After improving to 11-2 on the season, there’s little doubt in my mind that Rye Neck is one of the top teams in Class B.
“I’m very happy,” coach Tyler Slater said. “We played a very good game today – a good, clean game against a very good team. Not many mistakes either way, we got some timely hits and our pitchers have been doing a good job. There’s definitely room to improve, but I’m happy today.”
• Irvington hung tough for four and a half innings, even striking first with Shoran Tamura’s RBI double in the top of the first to take a brief 1-0 lead, but the Bulldogs had a tough time generating offense from that point on. “I thought the way that we hit the ball today, we’d score a lot more than one run,” Irvington coach Gary Raimondo said. “I didn’t think (Garcia’s) curveball was much to speak of, so we were sitting back on his fastball and hitting it pretty well.”
• The Bulldogs clearly came into the game with an aggressive approach at the plate, often hacking at the first or second pitch of the at-bat. It seemed like it might work with Garcia throwing a lot of strikes, but it ended up having a negative impact. The Panthers played solid defense behind Garcia, and he was able to maintain his efficiency, getting through a complete game on just 72 pitches. “I always like to throw strikes early in the count and allow them to hit the ball,” Garcia said. “I have a lot of confidence in my teammates in the field that they were going to make the plays.”
• Rye Neck scored its first run on Ryan Aquino’s sac fly in the second, but wouldn’t cross home plate again until the bottom of the fifth. Irvington starter Manny Figueroa had given up some hard hit balls, but showed some craftiness to keep it tied at 1-1 for awhile. That all changed in the fifth, with three straight singles from Tyler Spinelli, Chris Cascione and Chris Pennell to load the bases with no outs. Jakob Calvini hit a sac fly to make it 2-1, and then the floodgates opened. Cascione stole home when Pennell forced a throw to second, Garcia walked and then Matt Franks blasted a two-run RBI double to the center field wall. An error allowed another run to score, and just like that, the Panthers had a 6-1 lead. “We needed that one guy to start it off,” Cascione said. “Tyler Spinelli is our ninth hitter, and he can be a leadoff hitter on any other team. He started off with a nice single to right field, and that got it going. Then I got that base hit to left field, and everything clicked from there.”
• The Panthers kept the pressure on in the sixth and added three more runs. Cascione and Thomas Pipolo each hit RBI singles and Garcia hit an RBI double that nearly made it over the left field fence. “It’s a consistent lineup,” Slater said. “If the top of the order’s not doing it, the bottom of the order does it. The middle of the order, if they’re not doing it, then it’s the top or the bottom, so it’s just a very consistent lineup. They pick each other up, and there’s a lot of continuity. I think the guys are getting comfortable in their spots, learning the situational hitting and understanding their roles when they’re up at the plate.”
• Figueroa’s final line was: 5 IP, 7 R, 5 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 1 HBP, 2 K, 97 pitches (59 strikes, 38 balls). He did a really nice job through the first four innings, but Rye Neck definitely seemed comfortable at the plate, and that led to results eventually. “His last two outings he beat Hen Hud 1-0 and threw six shutout innings, and then today going into that one inning, he was doing fine,” Raimondo said. “I thought he did a good job of keeping them off stride, but they’re a good hitting team, no doubt.”
• According to Raimondo, the one-bad-inning syndrome has plagued Irvington all season. The Bulldogs bounced back from a slow start with five straight wins, but seem to have hit a skid again of late after being swept by Ardsley. “We’ve had that all year,” he said. “It’s a microcosm of our season. We just can’t seem to stay away from that one bad inning against the better teams. That’s been our nemesis all year.”
• While the Panthers were eventually able to get to Figueroa, Garcia cruised throughout the day. His final line was: 7 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 3 K, 72 pitches (52 strikes, 20 balls). As evident by his high strike rate, the right-hander was pounding the zone and was not shy about daring Irvington to make contact. “I feel like my fastball was great today,” Garcia said. “I felt like I had a lot of velocity. My curveball was a little iffy, but it must have worked for me.”
• A perfect example of how Garcia was able to keep his pitch count down and keep runs off of the board came in the top of the sixth. The Rye Neck bats had just broken out and given him a cushion, but Irvington put runners on the corners with one out. Garcia induced a ground ball to Cascione at short, who flipped it to Pennell at second for a pretty 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. “That was great,” Garcia said. “When I need a ground ball, I throw the ball low in the strike zone. I was really relieved – relieved is the word – that they turned that big double play, and Matty Franks at first made that big scoop.”
• Here’s Cascione on what it’s like playing behind Garcia: “That’s what I want from a pitcher. I feel like Garcia is a contact pitcher. He doesn’t really blow it by anyone, but he lets them put the ball in play and lets our fielders take advantage of it.”
• Slater called Aquino his No. 1 pitcher, and then said that Garcia is in a group of about three guys who can be his No. 2 on any given day. Pitching depth is a rare commodity when it comes to Class B teams, but Rye Neck seems to have it. And with four games coming up this week, the Panthers will need it. “This past week, we had a very light week,” Slater said. “We were able to rest a few guys, but next week will be a test. We have a few arms, but we’re going to see how far they go in each game. For now, everybody is fresh, but that could change by Tuesday of next week.”
• Slater isn’t kidding when he says they’ll be tested next week. They’ll play three days in a row starting on Monday with Briarcliff, Keio and Blind Brook, then a second game with Keio on Friday. That means that three of those four games will be played against the Class B finalists from last year, so we should know exactly where Rye Neck stands in the class by the end of the week. Of course, the first game against two-time champ Briarcliff under the lights at Dutchess Stadium on Monday night will be the big one. The No. 1 spot in the LoHud Power Rankings will likely be on the line. “This is definitely going to be a huge test,” Cascione said. “Briarcliff I think right now is the one-seed, and we’re right behind them. This would be a huge win.”
• I’ll say this for the Panthers: I haven’t seen a better lineup from a Class B team yet this season. The top three hitters in the lineup—Cascione, Pennell and Pipolo—each finished with multiple hits, and six different players had at least one RBI. They put together a ton of productive at-bats, and a few guys have nice, quick, compact swings with some obvious pop. “I feel like anyone one through nine in our lineup can be a three-hitter on any other team,” Cascione said. “We work really hard in practice. We get in the cage probably every day and we swing the bats every day.”
• I’ll give the final word to the winning pitcher: “We have a lot of depth in our batting lineup, in the field and in our pitching rotation, so I have a lot of confidence that we’re going to do really well down the homestretch of the season,” Garcia said. “It’s definitely going to challenge us a bit and show us where we are in the season.”
• To see the play-by-play action and full box score, click here to see how I scored the game on iScore.
Here are the rest of the results that we’ve received so far today:
Hen Hud 3 Lakeland 2: At Lakeland Friday, Kyle Monk had eight strikeouts. Chris Conklin had two hits and an RBI for Lakeland.
Nyack 3, Albertus Magnus 1: In the first round of the 7th Annual Dave Siegriest Memorial Tournament Friday, Rob Blinn, Austin Cavazzi and Tim Cuozzo each had an RBI. Winning pitcher Mike Espeso had six strikeouts.
Panas 3, Beacon 2: At Panas Friday, Pat Rucci hit a walkoff two-run double. R.J. Lyman threw a complete game for the win, allowing seven hits and no walks while striking out six.
Nanuet 9, Edgemont 3: At Edgemont Friday, John Verwoert had a double and three RBI. Brendan Freedman had two RBI for the Panthers. Teammate Nick Petrilli had an RBI and a double.
Tuckahoe 6, Bronxville 1: At Tuckahoe, Justin Cucino had three RBI. Winning pitcher Brian O’Toole had two hits and three runs. John McGrath had one RBI. Joe Pepe had an RBI for the Broncos.
Horace Greeley 7, New Rochelle 6: At Horace Greeley, Adam Quine had three RBI. Justin Ellick had a double and an RBI. Bryan Hamerschlag and Chris DiGuglielmo each had an RBI. Michael Schaub had a double and two RBI for New Rochelle.
Panas 10, Putnam Valley 2: At Panas, Pat Rucci went 3 for 3 with two runs and two RBI. Tom Parish went 2 for 3 with three runs and an RBI. John Meagle went 2 for 3 with an RBI for the Tigers.
North Salem 11, Brewster 2: At Brewster, Phil Capra had a home run, two doubles and three RBI. Nick Dolce had three RBI. Winning pitcher Ryan Ledwith allowed four hits and struck out nine and also had a double. Ben Carminucci had two RBI. Matt Hutt and Matt McClean each had an RBI for Brewster.
Rye Country Day 3, Hackley 1: At Hackley, Stephen Knight went 2 for 3 with an RBI. Matt Crowley went 2 for 3 with a double for the Wildcats. Enzo Stefanoni stuck out seven and allowed no earned runs in the complete game win.
Rye 6, Keio 3: At Keio, winning pitcher Trevor Johnson struck out four in seven innings and also had an RBI. Greg Hale had an RBI. Riki Matsumori and Yuya Morita each had an RBI for Keio.
Mamaroneck 5, Clarkstown South 4: At Mamaroneck, Gabe Makarem hit the winning RBI double in the bottom of the seventh. He finished with two RBI. Mat Marino also had an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh. Richie Barrella had an RBI. Tommy Muratore got the win in relief. Mike Doddy had a home run and two RBI for the Vikings.
Haldane 13, Dolgeville 1: At Dolgeville, Kenny Doxey had five RBI and three runs. Winning pitcher John Rotando also had three runs. Joe Marigliano and John Maldanado each had two RBI.
Sleepy Hollow 6, Albertus Magnus 5