Northport Tigers baseball team gets one hit; drops rubber game to West...

Northport Tigers baseball team gets one hit; drops rubber game to West Islip

April is known to be a month when pitchers are ahead of the hitters — but this is getting ridiculous.

The Northport Tigers baseball team was shutout on only one hit on Saturday, 2-0 against West Islip to wrap up a three-game set. Also wrapped up are the Tiger bats, as Lions right-handed pitcher Evan Byrnes pitched the complete game one-hitter and struck out nine. Northport was held hitless through five in their opener against West Islip righty Chris Lospinuso, and they have scored only seven runs in the first three games thus far, losing two of three to West Islip to start the season.

Northport’s lone hit against Byrnes might well have even been a gift from the official scorer, as West Islip right fielder Erick Burciaga was unable to grab Dominick Tetta’s pop fly behind the first base bag in the third inning.

Burciaga raced about 40 yards towards the right field foul line and lunged for the ball, but he closed his glove a split second too early and the ball fell to the grass. Despite the long run, he feels he should have made the catch.

“I should have had it and I wish they ruled that an error,” Burciaga said, “I apologized to Byrnesie because I felt bad, but he was very nice about it. He cared more about winning the game.”

Byrnes still took the opportunity to needle his teammate.

“I told him on the bus the bus ride that he ruined my no-hitter, but he knew I was kidding,” said Byrnes, who is only a sophomore. “In truth, I wasn’t even expecting him to get near that ball. It would have an incredible play.”

Though Byrnes was dominant, West Islip’s offense didn’t exactly burn up the basepaths in this series either, as the Tigers actually outscored them 7-6 in the three games. Northport won the middle game 6-2, but the Lion offense mustered enough to take two of three, as Lospinuso and Byrnes held them in check, allowing only one run in 14 innings. 

The Tiger strung together an effective bullpen game as righties Mike Lombardo, Liam Ryan and Ty D’Amico combined to give up only one earned run. On this day against Byrnes, who improves to 2-0 in 2023 and hasn’t allowed a run in 11 innings, it was one too many.

“West Islip has a great pitching staff and it seems like they do every year,” said Northport head coach Sean Lynch. “In both of the losses, we were in the game until the end, but they found away to scratch out runs when they needed to and we didn’t. It’s as simple as that.”

Tiger shortstop Owen Johansen hit a long drive to right after Tetta reached base with his hit, but Burciaga was able to make the catch steps in front of the fence. That’s the closest Northport was to scoring a runoff of Byrnes. 

“I have a feeling he (Byrnes) is going to be one of the toughest guys we face this year,” Lynch said. “I’m hoping our bats start to come alive as the weather gets warmer and we get used to facing live pitching.”

Byrnes was honored by Lynch’s assessment of his performance.

“It’s definitely one of the greatest feelings in the world to have that type of respect from the coach of a top team like Northport,” Byrnes said. “They have a tough lineup with a bunch of guys who can change a close game with one swing, so I’m glad we were able to finish the series with a win.”

Northport will need to string together a few good swings, starting with their three-game set against Half Hollow Hills East that kicked off on Tuesday.