RYE – Like a group of synchronized swimmers emerging from the water, professional baseball scouts stood behind home plate at Disbrow Park on Friday, raising their radar guns in unison with each pitch.
Most of them came to watch Rye senior George Kirby, a well-known commodity in these parts who is looking like he might get selected at some point in the upcoming Major League Baseball Draft.
“I just have to stay cool,” Kirby said of seeing the scouts. “I got used to it over the summer. A lot of them were my coaches for Area Code or East Coast Pro (offseason showcases), so I just have to stay composed and be myself out there. I can’t let anything get to my head.
“They’re just here to watch a game. I’m just there to pitch.”
The 6-foot-4 right-hander lived up to the hype, tossing seven scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts, but the scouts were treated to a pleasant surprise. Albertus Magnus senior James Reilly’s fastball was also touching 90 miles per hour, and he matched Kirby with seven scoreless innings.
It wasn’t until the eighth inning when both teams were able to break through and score some runs. Albertus picked up two in the top of the eighth on RBI hits from Reilly and James Clifford, but Rye rallied with three runs in the bottom half of the inning for a 3-2 walk-off win.
Campbell Schultz provided the winning hit, a bases-loaded single to score Mat Bruno.
“I struck out my first two (at-bats), but then my last one I was able to send one pretty far into left (field), so I was feeling good and confident that I caught up to (Reilly),” Schultz said. “I just tried to stay within myself and hit the ball.”
Kirby was pulled after seven innings at 94 pitches, but Reilly was at 85 and came back out after the Falcons took a 2-0 lead. He was still getting up to 89 mph, but the Garnets showed some fight.
An error scored Myles Burbank to make it 2-1, and then Tim Hale was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out. Kirby scored on a fielder’s choice to tie the score and Schultz laced a clean single into left field for the walk-off.
“I was nervous and antsy,” Reilly said. “I just wanted to get this over with and shock some people who think we’re in a rebuilding year. We’re not, and we’re here to defend our (Class B) title. We’re going to build off this and come back stronger.”
Player of the game: George Kirby, Rye — The big right-hander was dominant on the mound with 11 strikeouts in seven innings while allowing just five hits, and he also contributed at the plate with a single and a double.
“I’ve definitely been working on my swings,” he said. “It feels good to help my team out. That was actually the first time I batted while I pitched in a while.”
Turning point: Albertus Magnus put two men on against Kirby in the third and fourth innings, but he got out of trouble on both occasions — once with a strikeout and once with a groundout to the shortstop.
“It doesn’t really hurt me at all when I have a guy on first, second, third,” Kirby said. “I know my teammates will make the plays behind me, and that’s really when you have to bear down and hit your spots.”
Stat line: Rye (1-0) — Kirby pitched seven innings, allowing no runs on five hits and one walk with 11 strikeouts on 94 pitches (66 strikes). Kirby and Drake Turcotte each had two hits, and Schultz, Bruno and Ryan Ciardiello had an RBI each. Albertus Magnus (2-1) — Reilly pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts on 106 pitches (73 strikes). Stephen Greeley and Chris Cooney each went 2 for 3 while Reilly and Clifford had the RBI.
Quotable: “I literally couldn’t sleep last night,” Reilly said. “I was up most of the night. I got to school today, talked to my friends a little bit and they calmed me down. … Once I got here, I warmed up and went to work.”