Fans attending the Shelter Island Bucks Opening Day at Fiske Field Sunday were treated to beautiful weather, a first pitch thrown by Reverend Joel Ireland of St. Mary’s and a stirring rendition of “the Star Spangled Banner,” from Linda Bonaccors.
Islanders packed the bleachers behind home plate and lined the left field line in their own chairs.
And best of all, the fans were on hand for a resounding victory over the North Fork Ospreys in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League battle.
The first six 1/2 innings game were somewhat uneventful, considering what followed. The Bucks had done just enough to pick up a 3-0 lead. With the way their pitchers were handling the North Fork lineup, that looked like it would be good enough to get them a win. But things picked up for the Island offense in the bottom of the seventh, getting Shelter Island fans buzzing about the new group of baseball players that arrived in town. The Bucks plated five runs on the home half of the seventh to go up 8-0 and ensure they would pick up their first victory of the 2014 season in their first game. The team got some help from erratic Osprey pitching in their big inning with seven batters reaching base by walks.
After two free passes from Osprey pitching, a single by left fielder Trevor Freeman of Florida Southern College loaded the bases. A single by right fielder Brian Kraft of Grand Canyon University scored the first run of the inning to put the Bucks up 4-0. After another walk re-loaded the bases, shortstop Scott Donaghue of Quinnipiac University walked to force in a run and three more bases loaded walks led to a 8-0 advantage for the Bucks.
Earlier, in the third inning, a triple by third baseman Troy Socca of Fairfield University put him in position to score on a passed ball and give the Bucks their first run of the season. In the fifth, the team loaded the bases after three walks and Freeman singled to bring home a run. Kraft then followed with a single of his own to give the Bucks their 3-0 lead. Both players went two for four in the game.
Five Bucks’ pitchers held the Ospreys scoreless over nine innings and rarely found themselves in any trouble. In the top of the seventh, the team encountered a bit of a jam, still up just 3-0 with the Ospreys threatening to score. But Kraft threw out an Osprey runner at home from right field to end the inning and from there, Bucks’ pitching kept cruising to the last out.
Brandon Kacer of Elon University started the game for the Bucks and put up three quality innings to set the tone of the game.
After the game, Kacer was pleased with his outing, “I felt really good today,” he said. “I felt that I had my stuff and could pitch.
Three innings would have been a lot for me in my college season so it was nice to get out there and do my job and get my work done.”
New Bucks Head Coach Jon Karcich was happy with his team’s performance. The lopsided score didn’t matter, he said, since “a win is a win.”
Coach Karcich was also not concerned when his team didn’t come firing out of the gate, “I wasn’t too worried early on with no action or hits or runs or anything like that,” he said. “A lot of these guys haven’t seen live pitching or played in a game atmosphere in probably two or three weeks so they’re just trying to get their feet back under them and their timing back.”
Just like the rest of the team, both Coach Karcich and Kacer are adjusting to life on Shelter Island. So far both are enjoying it, poinitng out how friendly the people are, while the coach commented on how beautiful the town is and Kacer said he’s enjoying the perfect weather.
The newly assembled Bucks have been together now for roughly a week and are still awaiting five or six more players. So far Kacer likes the Bucks’ chances. “The team is definitely a group of a bunch of good guys that also know a lot about baseball and can really play well,” he said. “I think we should do well in this league.”
The Bucks now have a week on the road ahead of them, playing at the Westhampton Aviators on Tuesday, at the Sag Harbor Whalers on Wednesday and at the newest Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League team, the Montauk Mustangs on Thursday.
On Friday June 6 the Bucks will return home to Fiske Field to face the Aviators.