Bucks get strong pitching, but offense is stalling out

ROBERT O’ROURKE PHOTO | Catcher Joe Burns has been a leader on the Bucks squad this summer. He was awarded the Most Valuable Player award in last Saturday’s Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game.

Starting pitching has been one of the Shelter Island Bucks’ strongest assets over the course of the 2013 Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League season. That’s stayed solid even as the Bucks have struggled, going 3-8 this month. Good pitching can only carry a team so far with anemic hitting. And that’s the root of the problem for the team as the weather has heated up.

A prime example of the team’s lack of offense was wasting a strong pitching performance by starter Gavin Stewart in game two of a doubleheader against the Westhampton Aviators Monday at Fiske Field. Stewart tossed seven innings — a complete game since by HCBL rules doubleheader games last only seven innings — of four-hit, one-run baseball, striking out 11. The Bucks offense, however, could not get timely hits and fell 1-0 despite loading the bases with no outs in the bottom of the seventh.

Earlier in the day, in game one of the twin bill, Bucks starter Mike Wallace pitched well enough to win, allowing just two earned runs over eight innings. That game was forced into extra innings after the Bucks scored two runs in the seventh, tying the game at three. The Aviators came out on top by a score of 4-3 on a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth.

Following the two loses, Bucks Manager Johnny Hernandez was frustrated, saying he felt his team just did not show up to play. The losses to the first place Aviators pushed the Bucks back to sixth in the league standings with a 15-17 record, five games in sole possession of the last  playoff spot.

The doubleheader losses came just a day after the Bucks’ struggled on the road against the Sag Harbor Whalers on Sunday. Bucks starter Brian Ghiselli gave up four runs in the second inning to put the team in a hole early. Things would only get worse after the Whalers scored four more runs late in the game. The Bucks meanwhile scored three runs on five hits in the 8-3 loss.

Prior to the three tough loses this past week, the Bucks did have a strong showing Wednesday night, July 10, against the North Fork Ospreys in Peconic. Bucks’ starter Frank Trimarco, who has been developing into the ace of the staff, pitched a complete game, shutting down the Ospreys with three hits and one run and taking a no-hitter into the sixth. The Bucks offense was uncharacteristically strong in the 6-1 win.

Five Bucks had multi-hit games, including the first four hitters in the lineup.

With just 11 games left in the season now, the Bucks next turn their attention to a road doubleheader today, Thursday, July 18, against the Center Moriches Battlecats.