The score was locked at 0-0 when Riverhead’s Matt Crohan stepped up to the plate to start the bottom of the 7th inning. Representatives from the Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Mets and New York Yankees witnessed seven strong innings from Crohan though his fifth win of the season was still on the line.
On a 1-0 pitch from North Babylon’s Nick Van Ohlen, Crohan ripped the ball up the middle for a single, the Blue Waves’ third hit on the afternoon. Riverhead’s head coach Rob Maccone subbed in Nick Stimpfel to pinch hit and on his first attempt, he successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt advancing Crohan to second base.
It set the stage for Bobby Dilworth, who reached base each of his last two at bats. The first pitch was a ball on the outside of the plate. The next pitch, caught the plate and Dilworth gave it a hack. Within a matter of seconds, the ball darted down the first baseline right past the diving first baseman and as Crohan rounded third base, the Blue Waves’ dugout began to roar. The throw from the outfield came a second too late as the Blue Waves won in walk-off fashion 1-0.
“It felt like a dream,” said Dilworth. “The only time I have ever hit a walk-off was in little league. As soon as I hit the ball, I knew I won the game.”
Dilworth was instantly mobbed by his teammates who came running out of the dugout. Teammates yelled out: “Bobby Baseball! Bobby Baseball does it again!” He was lifted into the air as euphoria set in on a cold, windy day in Riverhead.
“I was seeing the ball well all game,” said Dilworth who hit 2-for-3. “I just wanted to get a good swing on it.”
“That was the biggest hit so far this year, Bobby came up huge,” said Maccone.
Dilworth has been in and out of the lineup all year.
“We use a DH for him some games and other games we let him hit,” said Maccone.
After the ball was hit, Maccone knew it could win the game as long as it stayed fair.
“I was just staring at the umpire, hoping he would call it fair,” said Maccone. “As soon as the umpire made the call, I knew we had won the game.”
Riverhead, which improved to 6-4 in League IV play, inched a bit closer to the 10-win mark to qualify for playoffs.
“We have eight games left to string together four more wins,” said Maccone. “We can definitely do it.”
Crohan, who is now 5-0 on the season, hit 91 MPH on the radar gun according to various scouts. He struck out nine batters, pitching yet another shutout, only giving up three hits.
“It’s a big lift for us to have Matt on the mound to start every series,” said Maccone. “I mean, he’s won every start, we’ve won the first game in every series.”
Pitching such a terrific game with no run support could leave a pitcher visibly frustrated, but Crohan never lost focus.
“You have to keep your foot on the gas pedal” when pitching in a tie ball game, Crohan said. “You can’t let up for a second otherwise you’ll have to start dealing with base runners.”
“The important thing is to get the win,” said Crohan. “We are trying to make the playoffs.”
North Babylon fell to 4-9 in the league and was eliminated from from playoff contention with today’s loss.
Josh Brewster will get the start Wednesday when the series resumes in North Babylon. Game time is 4 p.m.
“One run was good enough to win today,” said Maccone. “We’re going to have to start hitting to win this series.”
RiverheadLOCAL photo and video by Michael Hejmej