Rye wins at regionals

Tim DeGraw slides safely back into second base following a third-inning double against Wallkill on June 6. The double, which drove in two runs, was DeGraw’s 100th career hit in a Garnets uniform. Photos/Mike Smith

Tim DeGraw slides safely back into second base following a third-inning double against Wallkill on June 6. The double, which drove in two runs, was DeGraw’s 100th career hit in a Garnets uniform. Photos/Mike Smith

By MIKE SMITH

With a pair of victories this past weekend, the Rye baseball team finds itself just two wins away from a miraculous turnaround, from a six-win team in 2013, to Class A state champions this spring.

On June 6 and 7, the Garnets beat Section IX champs Wallkill and Maine-Endwell from Long Island, earning the chance to play in the Class A state semifinals on June 14 in Binghamton.

In both games, Rye got great starting pitching from the duo that has been winning games all year long. On Friday against Wallkill, lefty Luke Meyerson put the Warriors’ bats to sleep, tossing a three-hit complete game gem in a 6-1 win.

Sam Lubeck connects with a pitch on June 6 against Wallkill. The Garnets are just two wins away from bringing home a state title.

Sam Lubeck connects with a pitch on June 6 against Wallkill. The Garnets are just two wins away from bringing home a state title.

The following day, at John Jay High School, sophomore George Kirby authored a shutout as Rye topped Maine-Endwell 12-0.

Against Wallkill, Rye struggled for much of the game to find its stroke against ace Joe Pilliterri, but broke through with a good third inning, scoring five runs thanks to five hits and two Wallkill errors. The scoring started when Garnet leadoff man Tim DeGraw belted a two-run double, his 100th career hit as a Garnet.

“To do it in that spot, with two guys on, that was special,” DeGraw said after the game. “But to me, stats aren’t important; winning is.”

Meyerson said the Garnets’ third-inning outburst was instrumental in helping him settle into the game.

“It helps you to pitch with more confidence,” the southpaw said. “Pitching with a lead, knowing you can give up a run and it’s not that big a deal, I think it boosts my confidence, but also everyone behind me.”

The following day against the Spartans, George Kirby had that same sort of confidence, blanking Maine-Endwell while Rye’s batters plated 12 runs. Rye scored the bulk of its runs in the sixth inning, putting up 10 to put the game out of reach.

Luke Meyerson throws a pitch against Wallkill on June 6. Meyerson allowed just three hits in the Garnets’ regional semifinal win.

Luke Meyerson throws a pitch against Wallkill on June 6. Meyerson allowed just three hits in the Garnets’ regional semifinal win.

Sophomore Mat Bruno tallied his first varsity dinger in the game, smacking a grand slam in a pinch-hit appearance.

“What I always worry about is pitching and defense, but we’ve had that for us,” said coach Mike Bruno. “But it was nice the way the kids swung the bat, I think they will be a little more confident.”

Rye’s victory over Maine-Endwell marked the first regional finals win in the program’s history. Although the team struggled to pick up wins last year, Meyerson said, the team came into this spring with confidence it could compete at this high level.

“If you look at our record from last year, we were much better than our record indicated,” he said. “This year, we knew we had the talent to do this from our first preseason game.”

Rye will play on June 14 at Union Endicott High School, where the team will take on Averill Park from Section II in the Class A semis.

The Warriors advanced to the semis on the strength of a 16-1 win over Massena on June 7.

“They’ve got an ace who is going to be pitching for Siena College next year, and I think they’re a lot like us,” Bruno said of Rye’s semifinal opponent. “They’re on a hot streak, they’ve got a lot of chemistry, and they play for each other.”

Shortstop Griffin Tutun celebrates with catcher Chase Pratt after scoring Rye’s third run on June 6. Over the last two games, Rye has outscored its opponents 18-1.

Shortstop Griffin Tutun celebrates with catcher Chase Pratt after scoring Rye’s third run on June 6. Over the last two games, Rye has outscored its opponents 18-1.

CONTACT: sports@hometwn.com

 
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About Mike Smith

Mike Smith has been with Hometown Media Group since 2007, serving as the company’s Sports Editor. Mike has been commended for his work by the New York Press Association, winning awards in 2008 for “Best Sports Feature” and again in 2009 as part of a team that put together “The Game,” a breakdown of the Harrison-Rye football rivalry, which won for “Best Special Section.” His weekly column, “Live Mike,” offers his unique insights into a broad range of topics in the sports world. He resides in Eastchester, N.Y. and spends most of his free time serving as the player-manager for a competitive men’s baseball team in New York City. Reach Mike at 914-653-1000 x22 or sports@hometwn.com; follow him on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.