Ward Melville took another step Tuesday toward winning its sixth Suffolk League I baseball title in seven years.
Junior Ryan Hynes blasted a three-run homer to cap an eight-run fourth inning as Ward Melville pulled away from Patchogue-Medford for a 12-3 win in the opening game of a three-game series at the 13th annual Todd Caden Memorial at Ricky Marz Field in Coram.
Hynes, who went 3-for-4 with two runs scored, also had quite the day on the mound. The lefty bedazzled the Raiders' lineup, allowing three runs on four hits with three strikeouts in the complete game victory. It was Hynes' fourth win of the season.
“We felt confident that he could come in here in the opening game and get us a big win and set the tone for the series,” said Ward Melville coach Lou Petrucci. “(Hynes) was simply outstanding in a game that we didn’t have our ace and we really needed a pick-me-up.”
Ward Melville (12-4) was playing without staff ace Max Nielsen, who was nursing an oblique injury, suffered late last week, while running the bases. Nielsen, who has been unhittable this year, has a 6-0 record and 67 strikeouts in 35 innings with an ERA of .025.
In only his second start this year, Hynes was brilliant. He held Patchogue-Medford (9-7) to one hit and scoreless through the first four innings as the Patriots built a 4-0 lead.
“I felt good and the defense played well,” Hynes said. “The most challenging part of the day was the portable mound continued to shift under me. But it worked out and now we have the momentum in the series.”
The mound continually moved right and left for both starting pitchers, causing a delay as coaches figured a way to secure it.
“It was a nuisance,” Petrucci said. “But there’s always something, you have to learn to adjust. Ryan was fantastic out there and our bats woke up.”
Hynes retired 12 of the first 13 batters before Patchogue’s Phil Gerard homered to lead off the fifth. The Raiders loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth, but Hynes wiggled his way out of the tight spot allowing two runs on groundouts.
The Ward Melville offense supplied plenty of support with a three-run second inning, keyed by an Ethan Farino two-run single. The Patriots added a run in the third when Matt Franco crushed a homer for the 4-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, Ward Melville had nine consecutive batters reach base. Sophomore Brian Silverio lined a two-run single before Hynes' homer gave them the double-digit lead. Gritty Matt Maurer reached base in all four plate appearances, with a hit, two walks and a hit by pitch
“I'm really proud of the seniors and their leadership,” Petrucci said. “They really want that title back .”