For five Riverhead seniors, Saturday night’s 6-2 victory over the Bellport Clippers will forever be remembered.
A large crowd gathered at Stotzky Park in Riverhead as seniors and parents were honored before the game.
“We have done the senior game at Stotzky Park since 2008,” said head coach Bob Fox. “And we have won every single time.”
“It’s their night,” said Fox of the seniors. “It should be special.”
Before the game, instead of just calling both seniors and parents to the center of the field one by one like every traditional senior night, Fox added a little twist. Parents assembled around the pitching mound and threw a ceremonial first pitch to their senior. Some lobbed the ball in, others threw some heat; nevertheless, it was a unique experience.
“Every time we won the senior game, it was the seniors that led us to victory,” said Fox.
This time was no different.
Senior Amanda Graziano pitched a complete game striking out a career-high 12 batters.
“We’ve been waiting for it all year long,” said Fox of Graziano’s performance. “As the season progresses she just keeps getting stronger, stronger and stronger.”
Megan Weiss was the first of the seniors to inflict some damage. In the first inning, Weiss ripped the ball deep to center field and with aspirations of leaving the field, the ball fell a foot short, hitting the fence on the fly, landing right in front of the group of senior boys that were there in support.
After the game, the girls would call them “annoying” as they made a ruckus throughout the game, but support is support nonetheless.
Graziano would later drive Weiss in from second base on a smoked RBI double outside of right fielder’s reach to the delight of the crowd. The score would remain 1-0 until the third inning when Bellport (2-7, League V) tied the game on a triple followed by a single.
Riverhead (4-1 League VI, 6-3 overall) regained the lead after seniors Alex Mckillop and Graziano reached base before Stephanie Falisi brought them both in on a two RBI single right up the middle making the score 3-1. Falisi batted 3-for-4 on the day. The Blue Waves would never lose the lead again.
The final line for the seniors:
Weiss 1-4 (double, RBI)
Graziano 1-4 (double, RBI)
Mckillop 2-4 (two singles)
Corrine Kimmelman 2-4 (two singles)
Christina Sacchitello 1-2 (single, walk, sac bunt)
Collectively, they have one goal.
“We haven’t made the playoffs since our freshman year,” said Mckillop. “That’s something we want to do before we leave.”
Currently, the Blue Waves are in second place in the league but things change as they know all too well. The key to success, the girls said, will be “to stay together as a team and support each other.”
“We’ve been teammates since 7th grade,” said Weiss. “I wouldn’t want to make this playoff run with anybody else.”
Photo captions, from top: 1. Stephanie Falisi rips a 2 RBI single up the middle; Dave McKillop throws the ball to his daughter Alex; senior boys in the stands cheering on the Blue Waves. RiverheadLOCAL photos by Michael Hejmej