The High School East baseball team fared better Wednesday than of its three game set with undefeated league III opponent Smithtown West but still came up short, falling by a score of 5-2.
The Thunderbirds limited visting Smithtown West one big inning–the Bulls put up four runs in the third inning–but their bats were not enough to make up the deficit.
“They had a big inning where our pitcher wasn’t ready to get through the inning,” East coach Tim Belz said. “He had a bad inning and left some pitches up and walked some guys and they came through when they needed to come through. And again we didn’t come through when we needed to come through.”
Starter Vin Lafata took the loss for the Thunderbirds, who dropped to 2-6 overall. Lafta got through the first two innings unscathed, giving up just two hits. But his luck changed in the third after an error left the bases loaded with no outs. West’s Nick Dellasperanza followed with the biggest hit of the game, a screaming line drive double down the left field line that drove in two runs. Lafata left the game after the third inning, surrendering four runs on four hits and two walks.
Senior Travis Bertolino came on in relief and pitched the final four innings, giving up only one run and three hits.
“Bertolino pitched great out of the bullpen, it was awesome to see,” Belz said. “He’s a senior and he’s been our number guy out of the bullpen every time. He throws strikes and throws a curveball for a strike and does well. I wish we would have had a couple more runs earlier in the game and it would have been a different story.”
The Bulls moved to 7-0 overall and 5-0 in league play behind a strong pitching performance from James English and some timely hitting.
“He’s finally coming into his own as a pitcher,” Smithtown coach Al Nucci said of English. “He challenges batters, he can throw the ball by them, he can hit his spot. As long as we can keep him focused, he’s a No. 1 on any staff in the county I believe.”
The Thunderbirds put themselves on the board in the bottom of the third when Michael Ceperano singled in Eric Kessler with two outs. But a rally was thwarted when Mike Parziale, who also reached on a single, was caught in a run down and erased from the bases.
Hills East threatened again in its last at bat in the seventh, putting two men on. They managed only one run when Joe Raio reached on a fielder’s choice that scored Lee Giglio. The game ended on a ground out by leadoff hitter Chris Corso.
“We still haven’t played up to our best performance but we handled a couple of big situations well today,” Belz said. “Limit the big innings–they had one big inning and that was it. We just didn’t hit again, five hits is not good enough to win a game.”
The Thunderbirds will attempt to salvage the final game of the series on the road Saturday at 10 a.m.