The number of radar guns and scouts behind the plate made it clear there was something different happening Monday.
Scouts came to get a close look at Connetquot pitcher Joe Savino. They also were treated to an offensive display by Commack, which combined with errors by Connetquot on a cold, windy afternoon led to a 9-3 Commack victory Monday in Suffolk II at Baseball Heaven in Yaphank.
“It’s very natural for 16-, 17-year-old kids to get very excited about [scouts and radar guns], so we kind of practice for that,” Commack coach Bryan Bonin said. “We know that’s coming, so we try to have our kids stay the same whether there’s 100 people behind the backstop or zero. But yeah, it’s definitely exciting. I’d be crazy if I said it wasn’t exciting.”
Commack (4-0) scored five runs in the first inning and two in the second, taking advantage of timely hitting and Connetquot mistakes. Savino, a hard-throwing righthander, had seven strikeouts in five innings, surrendering five hits and seven runs, none of them earned, for Connetquot (6-1).
“That first inning was huge for us,” said Tim McHugh, who went 2-for-4 with two runs and two stolen bases. “It just set the tone for the rest of the game and it locked us in.”
McHugh acknowledged that the presence of scouts added to the Cougars’ intensity, but the players tried to remain focused on what was on the field. “It’s cool having guys there,” McHugh said. “But we just know we’re going to play our game and do what we can to get a win.”
Commack’s Drew Vincent was ready to go toe-to-toe with Savino. Vincent surrendered three walks and a run in the first inning and allowed two runs and five hits in five innings.
“It just gets me fired up to want to compete with him,” Vincent said. “And do the best I can and give us a chance to win.”
Commack applied pressure on Connetquot’s defense from the start and stole seven bases.
“When we have opportunities, we’re going to take them,” said Anthony Foti, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two stolen bases. “And when we take those opportunities, good things are going to happen.”
Commack’s Sean Coveny hit a solo home run in the seventh, and Vinny Pagano went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI single.
“The amount of intensity we have as a team and how fired up we get when we’re all stringing hits together and scoring runs,” Foti said, “you can’t beat it.”