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Hauppauge bats back starter Mike Knopf in beating Hills West

Hauppauge starting pitcher Mike Knopf delivers a pitch

Hauppauge starting pitcher Mike Knopf delivers a pitch against Half Hollow Hills West during a Suffolk baseball game on Wednesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The improbables keep adding up to wins for the Hauppauge baseball team.

Matched with Half Hollow Hills West in a battle for first place in Suffolk League V, the host Eagles channeled a couple unexpected things to score an 11-2 victory. Starter Mike Knopf didn’t pitch an inning last season and couldn’t record an out in his last outing, but carried a no-hitter into the fifth and ended up allowing just two runs over five innings. And Hauppauge’s small-ball attack broke out for 10 hits as it scored five runs in the first and four in the fourth.

And now the Eagles (8-4-1, 7-1), with two wins in two days over the traditionally-strong Colts, have grabbed the wheel atop the division — at least for the moment. Hills West (8-4-1, 6-2) will have a shot to regain a share of first place when the teams conclude their season series Friday. Still the moment is quite a development for an Eagles team that graduated 13 seniors off last year’s edition and brought back just three regulars.

“We hadn’t won a [division] game by more than three or four runs before today,” Hauppauge coach Josh Gutes said. “Aside from our three returning starters we have virtually zero innings of varsity experience so there were some unknowns … We’ve gotten a lot of timely hitting and some things have gone our way the past two weeks.”

That included a four-run seventh at Hills West for a 5-1 win and, as Gutes explained, “we’ve had to make comebacks. We’ve scored in the seventh inning. We’ve gotten it done when it counted. Our guys have bought into the idea that the only way we’re going to win games is if every guy makes a contribution and they add up.”

Joe Ferreri, whose three-run double was the key hit on Monday, went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and Anthony Ferrara had two RBIs in an Eagles lineup where eight different players knocked in a run.

“I’ve felt really good at the plate,” Ferreri said. “My team is believing in me and I am believing in myself, especially after what happened [Tuesday].”

Knopf was converted from an outfielder to a pitcher for this season because Gutes admired his competitive nature. He looked the part against the Colts. He allowed four baserunners on two walks and two errors over the first four innings and lost his no-hit bid when the Colts’ Doug Lattuca doubled to open the fifth. He finished having allowed the two runs on two hits and two walks with five strikeouts.

“I’ve been inconsistent as I get used to pitching, but I like doing it,” Knopf said. “In the last game [I pitched,] I think I threw 15 pitches and 13 were balls. But we bounced back and won that game and I bounced back today to help us get an important win.”

Knopf, Ryan Boyle, Ferreri and Chris Leone had four straight run-scoring singles in the five-run fourth and Hauppauge rolled from there.

Kelly Burke and Noah Costa drove in the Hills West runs.

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