RYE – Undefeated. Front-runners in Class A. Potential state champions.
That’s how Rye was being described heading into Tuesday’s showdown with rival Byram Hills, but the Bobcats took the opportunity to remind the rest of Section 1 — and New York State — that they should be mentioned in the same breath.
Not only did they hand the Garnets their first loss in a year, they dismantled them to the tune of 15-2, setting up a winner-takes-all game for the league title at Byram on Thursday.
“It’s definitely a statement, but we still have one more on Thursday, and that’s really the big one,” Byram Hills junior Frankie Vesuvio said. “It’s our senior day and that’s what we’ve been looking forward to the whole year. That’s what the league comes down to, and it’s big for seeding, too.”
The evolution of Vesuvio was on full display.
Formerly the Bobcats’ closer, the hard-throwing right-hander was converted to a starter this year and has emerged as a bonafide ace. He was a strike-throwing machine against a tough lineup, tossing a five-hitter with nine strikeouts while throwing 66 of his 85 pitches for strikes. He threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 27 batters that he faced.
“I didn’t walk anybody,” Vesuvio said. “I didn’t fall behind in the count much. My fastball wasn’t really as dominant as it usually is, but my changeup was really good today and my slider, as usual. Those secondary pitches really helped me out.”
Rye countered with senior right-hander Tim DeGraw, who had not allowed an earned run all season. But Byram (15-4) snapped that streak, knocking him out of the game with a 5-0 lead after 2 1/3 innings.
By the time the final out was recorded, all nine starters for the Bobcats had at least one hit and one RBI. Vesuvio led the way with three RBI, including his sixth homer of the season to break a school record.
“When everyone is contributing and everyone is in the game, focused, things just work out,” said second baseman Tommy Gagliardi, who went 4 for 5 with a run scored, a stolen base and two RBI. “We just took good approaches. We focused on hitting the ball up the middle and the other way. We stayed back in the box and waited for him to throw us our pitch.”
The loss puts the Garnets, who are currently the No. 1 overall team in the Lohud Baseball Rankings and No. 3 in Class A in New York State, at 16-1.
“It’s still a great thing that these kids did. Winning your first 16 games is awesome, but sometimes you need to be knocked down a peg,” Rye coach Mike Bruno said. “If we come back on Thursday and play our game, we win the league. In terms of this game, we have to put it behind us. Byram deserved it. Tip your cap to them.”