Sachem East’s Roman Dorosh and Ward Melville’s Chris Buehler were locked in a duel of staff aces. They posted zero after zero Thursday as their teams battled for sole possession of first place in Suffolk League I on a frigid day at Baseball Heaven in Yaphank.
The outcome would rest on two outfield throws and a risky baserunning decision by each coach. One bold move played out for the win. One didn’t.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Dorosh crushed a drive to deep leftfield, but a strong wind blew the ball back and away from the warning track for a double. With one out, Dorosh stole third before cleanup man Dylan Stalzer lifted a fly ball to shallow center.
As centerfielder Trevor Cronin made the catch, Sachem East coach Kevin Schnupp sent Dorosh home. With the throw a bit off the plate and up the first-base line, the speedy Dorosh slid in safely as Sachem East edged Ward Melville, 1-0, on a 39-degree day that felt colder because of 35-mph winds.
“It was a risky call, but he’s so fast and they have to make the catch and throw to get him,” said Schnupp, whose team moved to 3-0. “You have to go for it and take the chance.”
Ward Melville (2-1) had the same opportunity to tie the score in the seventh. Cronin worked a leadoff walk, stole second and advanced on a wild pitch before Dorosh picked up a strikeout for the first out.
With Dorosh at 104 pitches, Schnupp called on lefty Andrew Scavo for the save. On Scavo’s third pitch, Brady Doran lifted a fly ball to almost the same spot in centerfield as Stalzer’s sacrifice fly went. As centerfielder Dan Palermo came toward the ball, Ward Melville coach Lou Petrucci sent Cronin. Palermo unleashed a perfect throw to catcher Ryan Micheli to cut down Cronin and end the game.
“You live to make that big throw,” said Palermo, who is committed to Iona. “I saw him take off and I knew I had him.”
Micheli caught the ball on the fly. “It was a perfect throw,” he said. “I had to catch it first and then put it on him. What a big win.”
It was made possible by Dorosh, who struck out 12 and allowed two hits, two walks and a hit batsman. He struck out at least one in every inning, including the side in the second and third. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third by striking out the Patriots’ Nos. 3 and 4 hitters.
“He’s resilient and such a competitor,” Schnupp said. “And in big spots he just bears down and strikes guys out.”
Buehler also was in command. The Ward Melville lefty scattered five hits, struck out seven and did not allow a runner to reach third base until the sixth.
“We had our opportunities and didn’t capitalize,” Petrucci said. “They sent a runner from third and he scored for the win. We sent a runner from third and the throw was on target and on time for the final out — game over. Wow, some game.”