The moment wasn’t lost on Shoreham-Wading River senior Vinnie Uzzi in his first at-bat of the season. The opponent was defending Suffolk Class A champion Mount Sinai — the team he was facing when he suffered a broken right tibia that derailed a promising 2016 season.
He didn’t want to beat the Mustangs because of the injury, though. It wasn’t personal. It was because Mount Sinai is good.
“I thought, ‘It’s the season opener against a great program and we need to get the win,’ ” he said Monday. “You want that first win.”
Leadoff man Kyle Baylous had doubled and Brian Morrell had singled before Mount Sinai starter Kieran Orlando induced a pop-up for the first out.
That set the table for the Shoreham cleanup hitter. Uzzi hit a three-run home run to centerfield to key a four-run first inning in Shoreham-Wading River’s 8-3 victory in a Suffolk League VII opener at Firemen’s Field in Ridge.
“I hit it off the end of the bat, but I got enough of it,” Uzzi said.
Shoreham’s Miles Kelly added a solo homer as the Wildcats took a 4-1 first-inning lead.
“That’s Uzzi. He’s a hitter,” Shoreham coach Kevin Willi said. “He got off to a red-hot start last year, too. Then he broke his leg and missed a month.”
Uzzi went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, including a run-scoring single that keyed a three-run sixth.
“They had the top of the lineup coming up in the seventh and we had to put them away,” he said. “We needed some insurance runs.”
With the offense exploding for 11 hits, including three home runs, the Wildcats rode the right arm of Morrell, who threw four no-hit innings before being removed with his pitch count at 75.
“I’m satisfied with Brian’s outing,” Willi said. “He didn’t allow a hit and struck out six. He struggled with his control in the first inning and settled down. He had a little too much adrenaline against the defending champs.”
Mount Sinai scored an unearned run when Paul Gomes came home on a wild pitch for a brief 1-0 lead.
“We took an early lead and we had our opportunities and didn’t hit in the big spots,” Mount Sinai coach Eric Reichenbach said. “We were right in the game . . . We were down 5-3 and with two runners on and no one out, we didn’t execute. We didn’t throw first-pitch strikes or strikes for percentage, and that cost us. Shoreham is a senior-laden team that can flat-out hit.”
Shoreham designated hitter Dean Stalzer led off the fourth with a home run for a 5-1 lead, and the Wildcats looked as if they’d add to the lead. TJ Sicoli and Ryan Mullahey walked before Baylous laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third for Morrell.
Reichenbach promptly called for an intentional walk to load the bases, and Orlando induced an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
“Orlando is a sophomore who pitched very well,” Reichenbach said. “He allowed a few pop-up home runs on a small field. Those are usually routine outs.”
Mount Sinai made it 5-3 in the fifth when Gomes singled and scored on Jared Donnelly’s two-run home run. The Mustangs put runners on first and second before reliever Alex Angerman got a 6-4-3 double play and a strikeout to end the threat.
Said Uzzi, “It’s a real nice start.”