There are rallies, and then there are game-over rallies. Shoreham-Wading River is getting a reputation for putting together prolific scoring outbursts — the ones that just bury opponents.
The Wildcats feature three of Long Island’s leading home-run hitters and a supporting cast that is swinging hot bats. Shoreham-Wading River delivered a nine-run fourth inning to blow open a one-run game and defeat Bayport-Blue Point, 13-3, Wednesday in the opener of the Suffolk Class A best-of-three finals.
The Wildcats, winners of 19 in a row, had dropped a 10-run inning on Mount Sinai in a semifinal sweep.
Shoreham-Wading River (23-1) will travel to Bayport-Blue Point (13-10) today for game two at 4 p.m.
Dean Stalzer, who keyed a two-run first with an RBI single, led off the fourth with a single. He closed the scoring in the 33-minute inning with a long, three-run home run to the opposite field to make it 11-1. Stalzer’s seventh homer of the season moved his RBI total to 30.
“They can’t pitch around anyone in our lineup,” Shoreham-Wading River coach Kevin Willi said. “We have disciplined at-bats, and our hitters are making pitchers come to them and throw strikes.”
The key at-bat in the epic fourth was the well-executed sacrifice bunt by Alex Bettenhauser. After Stalzer singled and Vin Uzzi doubled to put runners on second and third with no outs, Bettenhauser dropped the bunt to drive in Stalzer, and when the throw to first went wild, Uzzi scored for a 4-1 lead.
“The bunt started the whole inning,” Bettenhauser said. “Bayport had scored a run to cut our lead in half and it was a close game. We’d hit into a couple of double plays and missed some scoring chances in the first three innings. That two-run bunt gave us some breathing room and the guys relaxed.”
The Wildcats had seven hits in the big inning, including Kyle Baylous’ two-run double and Brian Morrell’s two-run single. Ryan Mullahey (7-0) scattered four hits, walked five and struck out seven.
Stalzer went 4-for-4 with five RBIs to lead a 14-hit attack. Jon Luppens, Baylous and Bettenhauser had two hits apiece.
“I thought my at-bat in the first inning was important,” Stalzer said. “And then I thought the leadoff single to get the rally started was big. And the home run was good. They’re all really important.”
Every starter in the Shoreham lineup scored at least one run.
“That’s the thing with our team,” Bettenhauser said. “We have so many good players, and it’s a tough lineup to beat.”