Dennis Buckstein argued . . . but not too vehemently. "I hate coming out of games. I just wanted to keep playing," the Sachem North senior said.
But he was smiling, even though he didn't get to duplicate the no-hitter he pitched in his last outing against Whitman last Tuesday. Buckstein tossed five more no-hit innings Tuesday in a 9-0 victory over Half Hollow Hills East. But with his pitch count at 85 and the temperature dropping in Dix Hills as afternoon turned into evening, Buckstein was lifted by coach Tom Gambino.
"He gave me a little, 'Come on, coach, I'll throw a couple of three-pitch innings,' " Gambino said. "Our goal was around 90 pitches. There was no way he was going to be there by the seventh inning. He wasn't getting the complete game today. I wasn't comfortable leaving him in with his pitch count and the cold."
Buckstein said he "completely understood" and acknowledged "it was 40 degrees out there and it's early in the season."
A season that has started well for Sachem North. Tuesday's victory improved the Arrows to 4-0 in Suffolk League II while Hills East, which scratched out two hits against the Arrows' bullpen, fell to 0-4.
A big first inning made the outcome academic as the Arrows scored four runs on back-to-back home runs over the leftfield fence by James Griffith (two on) and Nick Morena. Leadoff batter Stephen Foster drilled three solid doubles and scored twice to make it easy for Buckstein.
"The fastball was working; the cutter was very good; the knuckler was dancing," said Buckstein, who struck out the side in the fifth. "But I gave up too many walks."
The righthander struck out eight, walked three and hit a batter. In last week's gem, the first no-no of his career, he struck out 13 in seven innings with no walks. "He was getting stronger as the game went on, but he walked a few too many and that got his pitch count up," Gambino said. "Maybe if it was a 2-1 game I might have left him in. But it's a long season. I did the right thing."