Kyle Rosenberg was quite unfamiliar with situations like these.
The Wheatley ace, who hasn’t lost in two seasons as a starter, encountered his fair share of struggles in the opening inning on Monday, quickly surrendering three runs and four hits. But his Wildcats teammates offered an immediate response with five runs to close out the first.
From there, Rosenberg found his groove. And the offense matched him with its own high level of efficiency, as well.
Rosenberg did not allow another hit or run over the final four innings, and Costa Koutsoftas had three RBIs as No. 1 Wheatley defeated No. 3 Locust Valley in Game 1 of the Nassau Class B baseball championship series at Farmingdale State, 13-3.
“This was just team baseball,” Rosenberg said. “The boys had my back out there after the rocky start. The hitting was incredible today; I couldn’t have asked for a better day. Just glad we got the win.”
Wheatley (18-2-1) and Locust Valley (8-11-1) will reconvene at Farmingdale State for Game 2 on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
Koutsoftas laced a two-run single to tie the score at 3 before Matt Hetzel ripped an RBI single to center to give the Wildcats their first lead at 4-3. Koutsoftas then came home during Hetzel’s rundown between first and second base.
“Being down three in the first inning, we know how to fight back,” Koutsoftas said. “We’ve been there before. Everyone comes up clutch for our team.
“We always have Kyle’s back. We were all hyping up the bench when we got back in here. We know what to do and we got the hits.”
Rosenberg regained his form from that point forward, allowing only one additional baserunner en route to the victory.
“Kyle hasn’t lost a game in two years as a starter, so it was a little confusing to see him pitch like that,” Wheatley coach Paul Paino said. “He had his good stuff working. He was just missing his spots. But he definitely corrected it.”
Wheatley (18-2-1) tacked on another run in the second to extend the lead to 6-3, and Koutsoftas added another RBI single in the fourth. Will Karikas then drove in a run in the fifth to begin a six-run rally, which Hetzel capped off with a two-run single to right that ended the game by run rule.
While the early struggles were an unfamiliar spot for Rosenberg, Wheatley’s run toward a county title certainly isn’t. The Wildcats now look to win their second consecutive one after winning both the Nassau and Long Island Conference VI championships last season.
“This was huge,” Koutsoftas said. “Winning the first game is always the biggest part. Now we have all the momentum going into Game 2.”