Connetquot's Ryan Kiendle (left) scores the first run of the...

Connetquot's Ryan Kiendle (left) scores the first run of the game and is welcomed to the dugout by Mike Empaynado during a Suffolk League II baseball game against Ward Melville in East Setauket on Saturday, April 6, 2024. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

Sometimes you hit the ball on the button, and it finds the fielder’s glove. And then there are times, where you make weak contact and get a hit. Baseball can be that way.

Just ask Connetquot senior Ryan Kiendle.

He hit line drives in three of his at bats, two went for singles and another found the glove of the centerfielder for an out.

But it was the weakest contact of all and pure hustle of Kiendle in the sixth inning that ultimately was the deciding factor in Connetquot’s 2-0 win over Ward Melville in Saturday’s Suffolk League II baseball game in Setauket.

With the teams locked in a scoreless tie through five innings, Kiendle led off the top of the sixth with a slow roller down the third base line for an infield single. And that hit jump started the winning rally.

DJ Filippone singled and Mike Empaynado laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt moving the runners to second and third. After Ward Melville starter Dalton Rutt collected his third strike out on a wicked 3-2 curveball, it was up to Joe Scarabino to give Connetquot the lead.

Scarabino drilled a first-pitch fastball past third baseman Matt Poxon for a two-out, two-run single and the win.

“It was a fastball on the inner half of the plate, and I knew if I hit it hard, good things would happen,” Scarabino said. “It’s a really big win and helped us take the series.”
Connetquot (3-3) and Ward Melville (1-2) split the first two games of the series. When asked about his infield hit that spurred the lone rally, Kiendle said, “good things happen when you hustle out of the box.”

Connetquot senior Evan Lora pitched a complete game, allowing three hits, one walk and striking out five. He was pitch efficient, throwing only 72 pitches in a superb effort.

“We played amazing defense and that makes it easy on the pitcher,” Lora said. “I went out and threw strikes and pitched with confidence.”

Lora threw 15 of 23 first pitch strikes and allowed only one runner to reach third base.

Ward Melville’s leadoff hitter Tyler Jean-Noel opened the game with a double and moved to third on a groundout. He tried to score on a grounder toward the third base hole, but Kiendle made a nifty stop and threw Jean-Noel out at the plate. Ward Melville didn’t get a runner past first base for the remainder of the game.

“I had a good read on the ball and made the throw,” Kiendle said. “You don’t realize how big the play is or how significant until later in the game when no one had scored.”

Ward Melville coach Lou Petrucci pointed to Lora and a solid Connetquot defense as the keys to the big win.

“Connetquot’s starter pitched a great game,” Petrucci said. “He stayed ahead of the hitters, had no deep counts, and walked only one guy. It was a pitcher’s duel, and they got the one clutch hit.”

Lora and Rutt matched five scoreless innings in one hour and three minutes. Rutt scattered seven hits and two walks over seven innings.

“When Evan is in command, he’s so tough,” Connetquot coach Rob Burger said. “He had that sinker working today and we played really good defense.”


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