By MIKE SMITH
After 2013’s six-win season, Rye’s baseball squad came out of the gates firing on all cylinders; winning 23 games and earning the school’s first-ever berth in a state final game.
Although that game ended with a loss to Bayport-Blue Point, the significance of the Garnets’ historic season wasn’t lost on the Rye faithful.
Rye coach Mike Bruno had nothing but praise for his team after the season and said, despite falling short of its goal to win a state title, the Garnets play all spring was a source of pride for the community.
“I just told them how proud of them I was,” Bruno said. “They did something that no other team in Rye history has done and they battled right to the end.”
After beating Averill Park 3-2 in a 10-inning affair earlier in the day, the Garnets simply couldn’t put it together against the two-time state champs, falling 13-2 in the Class A final.
“We just didn’t make some of the plays we usually make, some of those led to hits, which led to the flood gates opening,” Bruno said. “He wasn’t their ace, but their pitcher did a nice job and, with a lead, he was able to pump the strike zone all day.”
Despite having to play the semifinal and final games back-to-back, Bruno said Rye didn’t suffer from any fatigue in the double-header.
“The kids were just pumped to play,” he said. “And in Florida, to open the season, we were playing double-headers, so I think we were used to that.”
During the course of the season, Bruno said, Rye had no shortage of stars who came up big in tight games, something that helped the Garnets to reach new heights.
“It was about playing together as a team, as a family,” Bruno said. “It was about enjoying their time on the field and I think that’s what translated into wins.”
Although the Garnets will lose several key bodies from this year’s team, including lefty Luke Meyerson, shortstop Griffin Tutun, third baseman Brendan Tripodi and others, the team will return 13 players from the team that captured the league, section and regional titles, including rising junior George Kirby, who went 10-0 on the mound this season.
Bruno said this year’s run to the state finals should help to mold his returning players into the same type of veteran leaders that put their stamp on this season.
“It was a tremendous help,” he said. “Eight additional games playing against good competition. Next year, hopefully, that will pay off.”
Bruno was also appreciative of the way the community came out to support the squad on its march toward states.
“It was great the way the school rallied for us, I don’t think the kids expected that,” he said. “The community as a whole is known as a football community, but this spring they really came out to support baseball.”