From a 3-2 regular season win over Suffern to a 10-0 loss for Scarsdale baseball in the Section 1 Class AA tournament was not the direction Scarsdale baseball hoped to be going in.
The Raiders know, however, that had they won some of the other close games this season they’d have had a higher seed and a better advantage in the postseason.
“We lost five one-run games we had a lead in,” coach Jeff Weigel said. “We had six wins and you add those five and that’s 11. Then it’s a whole different ballgame. You’re seeded differently, but woulda, coulda shoulda.”
The first time against Suffern the Raiders had the pitching, the defense and just enough offense to make their mark in April. In May, Suffern was in command.
“The pitcher they threw out there was a crafty lefty who hit his spots,” coach Jeff Weigel said. “We didn’t execute. We didn’t get a lot of hits. We’d get a hit, an out, a walk — we never backed up our hits in a row. We never got a chance to test their infield of outfield.”
Pitchers Trevor Lambert and Justin Blieden gave it their all, but without any offense there wasn’t much the team could have done to reverse the result.
“I think they picked up on our pitching more,” senior shortstop Kody Morikuni said. “They expected us to fight back, so many of their fielders played back on the first half of the lineup. Cole Thaler hit a great shot to center that I thought would normally be a double, but it was caught since he was right there.
“The Suffern pitcher had good control of the ball and the confidence in his pitching because of his fielding. We just didn’t have it at that game, but I still am proud that we tried to do our best until the end.”
The Raiders had won other big games this season, including topping Mamaroneck, and lost key one-run games that added to the disappointment of a 6-13-1 record, but that doesn’t mean the season was a bust by any means.
“Baseball is a game I played to have fun and I really hope the team doesn’t lose the spirit of how fun baseball can be,” Morikuni said. “At the end of the day as a senior I’m going to remember the memories I made not only with my teammates, but with my dad throwing the ball around. It’s about everybody who supported me throughout this process. Everybody may fixate on the wins and losses, but to me it’s more the memories and fun times I did have and what I learned that I will cherish.”
The life lessons from Scarsdale Little League to varsity will stay with Morikuni more than the record.
“The patience, the courage, the perseverance have really taught me and I don’t think I’d be able to have those same lessons without baseball,” Morikuni said.
The two years Morikuni spent on varsity were about working hard and giving his best shot, even if he didn’t always live up to his own individual and team standards as far as results. For Morikuni it was about battling through the grind.
“It was trying to practice my swing, practicing when no one was looking,” he said. “There were moments when it really showed up and what I took away from this season was the camaraderie we had as a team was better than last year since we communicated much more and picked ourselves up more this year.”
Scarsdale graduates Sam Bernstein, Michael DiSanto, Cole Kattan, Trevor Lambert, Ben Lehrburger, Morikuni, Jonah Schneider, Jeremy Steinschraber, Cole Thaler, Avery Tzamarot and Matt Watiker, many of whom played key defensive, offensive and pitching spots.
“The whole senior class had an impact throughout the year,” Weigel said.
The team returns juniors Blieden, Sam Feldman, Cole Fuehrer, Conner Raff, Tarif Sabur, Ryan Smith and Kevin Walker, a strong core to build around.
Weigel hopes to see the junior class put in the time during the offseason to get stronger on and off the field. “They see what it takes to get to this level and they need to realize what it takes to stay at this level,” he said. “It’s every day. You’ve got to fight the grind.”
It took time for some players to understand the jump from junior varsity to varsity.
“The game is faster up here,” Weigel said. “You pay more attention to detail. Other teams scout you and watch you to get to know what your strengths and weaknesses are. For the junior class to see that and how I coach and how I run my program is a good thing. They know what to expect for senior year.”
The Raiders have good team chemistry and stuck together on and off the field not only with workouts and games, but a ropes course adventure with the boys lacrosse team, a trip to Yankee Stadium and team dinners.
It all adds up and will continue with hard work in the offseason.
“It’s learning how to compete, what it takes to compete,” Weigel said. “It’s not just words. It’s actions.”