It is the kind of scenario that gets played out in the backyard of young kids everywhere. Wiffle bat in hand, striking the ball over the roof top for a game-winning home run, the kid jubilantly rounds the bases before being mobbed by teammates at home plate. A hero, if only for a day.
Such was the scene Monday. Only it wasn’t a kid in a backyard, it was varsity baseball at East Hampton High School.
Marvin Gorgas launched a 3-and-1 pitch over the left-center field fence leading off the bottom of the eighth-inning to give East Hampton a walk-off 4-3 victory over Westbrook in the home opener for the Bellringers.
“I just knew it was going to be out when I got to first base,” said Gorgas, who also pitched the eighth inning for the win in relief. “I was just looking for a fastball and I got it and the wind took it.”
Gorgas’ heroics were necessary after Westbrook, down to its last out in the top of seventh, got a home run from Torin Woods to tie the score at 3.
Pitcher Al Iannone started for the Bellringers and took the mound to start the seventh. East Hampton coach Scott Wosleger considered lifting Iannone, but let him start the inning with the idea if the first batter got on he would summon Gorgas.
Iannone (seven innings pitched, seven strikeouts) easily got the first two batters out on groundouts before Woods came to the plate.
Woods hit a 1-and-2 fastball for the home run.
“We shouldn’t have called for a fastball there,” Wosleger said. “Even though he bats ninth, we knew he was good a hitter.”
The game started out as a pitcher’s duel, with neither team able to mount much offense.
Early wildness by Iannone got the Bellringers in trouble in the first. With two out, Iannone walked the next two batters before a single by Cody Forrest gave the Knights a 1-0 lead. With runners on first and third, Iannone then had Forrest picked off first, but during the ensuing rundown, an errant throw to catch the runner straying off of third allowed Tyler Shamus to score Westbrook’s second run.
Iannone, who picked the victory in the season opener, settled down after that, giving the Bellringers a chance to figure out Shamus, the Knights’ starting pitcher.
East Hampton had a golden chance to get on the scoreboard in the second when Iannone, Adam Michaud and Brian Roberson started the inning off with singles. The Bellringers let Shamus off the hook, however, when the bottom of the order failed to deliver.
East Hampton broke through in the fourth on a solo home run by Roberson. Then in the sixth, the bottom of the order redeemed itself with a two-run rally.
Michaud got the inning started with a single but was replaced on the bases on a fielder’s choice by Roberson. Ben Fortin pinch-ran for Roberson and moved to second when Gorgas drew a walk. With two on and one out, Nate Heroux drilled a hard grounder past the shortstop for an error and Fortin was waived home. The throw was in time, the sweep tag questionable, and Fortin was called out.
“It was close,” Wosleger said. “From my angle he looked safe, but the umpire was right there. He’s right on top of it. Nobody’s got a better look at it than him and he’s an experienced guy so I’ll take his word for it.”
That call could have killed the rally, and perhaps with last season’s team, it would have, but with runners moving to second and third on the throw, the stage was set for Joe Tuxbury, whose two-run single gave the Bellringers a 3-2 lead heading into the seventh.
“We just got one or two more big hits then they did, but it could have been anybody’s game,” Wosleger said.
Still, coming off a 3-17 record in 2010, there is reason for East Hampton to be optimistic. With two late-inning victories, the team is showing resiliency and character.
“We have Hyde on Wednesday so we’re right back to work [Tuesday],” Wosleger said. “We’re over .500 now, 2-1, try to get to 3-1. Try to keep getting better every day that’s all we can do."
Jake Comment took the loss for Westbrook.