By Ted Waddell
LIVINGSTON MANOR May 11, 2004 What a way to start a game.
Its gotta be tough being the home team coach sitting on a bucket of baseballs and watching the other team send 14 runners across the plate in the first inning.
In the opening frame of Thursdays non-league game against the visiting Chester Hambletonians, Rob Farrell, coach of the Livingston Manor Wildcats, watched in disbelief as the opposition racked up 14 runs.
As Chester (7-5) went through its lineup, batters smacked hit after hit through the gaps, almost as if the balls had laser sights guiding them along their way past the outstretched gloves of the Wildcat fielders.
Despite some valiant diving attempts at snagging shots through the infield, nothing seemed to be able to stop them from finding the wide open spaces.
And runner after runner legged it around the bases headed toward home.
In the bottom of the first, the Wildcats scratched back for three runs.
But were still in a very deep hole, trailing 14-3 going into the second inning.
At its turn at bat in the third, Manor (3-7) scored one run, but the team still found itself behind by 10.
In the top of the fourth, the Hambletonians found paydirt again. They scored five runs to make it a 19-4 ballgame.
Manor managed to get one back at its turn at the plate in the fifth frame.
In the sixth, however, Chester closed out the games scoring with four runs, mercifully ending it at 23-5.
Pitcher Jeff Curtis went the distance for Chester.
Manor went through three pitchers: Josie Mendez, Ryan Taggart and Evan Irwin.
Its rough for Manor because this is a rebuilding year for them, Chester Coach Tony Mancuso said. But I never saw their kids get down, and thats a good thing.
The Hambletonians helmsman said his team fielded more experienced players, and it showed during the 19-run rout of the Wildcats.
Livingston Manor should be very proud of the way they handled themselves, he added. They were almost out of the game before they had a chance to come up to bat . . . the kids didnt quit, and they kept fighting right to the end.
Farrell said it wasnt fun to watch his team get pounded on a sunny afternoon.
They just hit the ball right through the gaps, and there was nothing we could do about it, he said.
Farrell also said the Wildcats should have a much better record than we show, as theyve been losing a lot of close games.
If we could just eliminate the mental errors, we would be fine, he added.
Peeking over the horizon toward postseason play, Farrell hopes to get by fellow Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association (OCIAA) Division VI members Eldred, Chapel Field and S.S. Seward to win the divisional title.
We have to defeat three teams, but I think we can do it, he said.