In the first inning of Thursday evening’s Shelter Island Bucks home game, an offense that has struggled jumped out to an early lead to make sure their stellar pitchers didn’t have to worry about being tough luck losers once again.
A four run first inning propelled the Bucks to a 7-1 victory over the Sag Harbor Whalers in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League contest to move their record to three wins against four losses.
With one out in the bottom of the home first, center fielder Steven Pinales of Sullivan County Community College worked a walk followed by first baseman Jimmy Jack who also received a base on balls. Third baseman Darien McLemore of the University of Texas at Arlington then singled to load the bases with Bucks with just one out.
Designated hitter Brian Kraft singled to bring home Pinales and put the team up 1-0 before right fielder John LaRossa of the University of Hartford walked with the bases loaded and two outs to bring home another run. An infield single by catcher Dylan Isquirdo of the College of San
Mateo brought home two more Bucks and put the team ahead 4-0.
“It’s always great to score in the first inning, especially at home,” said Bucks Manager Jon Karcich.
The four run lead was more than enough for starting pitcher Max Watt of Lynn University who pitched 5 innings allowing just three hitsand struck out three. Watt allowed no earned runs which was not surprising considering the success starters on the team have had so far this summer. The most runs a Bucks’ starter has allowed in a start so far this summer is — that number again — three.
Watt was not quick to take all the credit for his strong performance, praising the defense behind him. “Every pitch I made the defense behind me would make every play,” Watt said. “That’s a huge thing for a pitcher as a confidence boost.”
The pitcher also credited his successful outing to going out after his team’s four-run first inning and keeping the Whalers off the board.
“The biggest thing for me when … was to have a shutdown inning the next inning,” he said adding that Pitching Coach Gerald Smiley emphasizes shutdown innings to the staff.
The Bucks tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the seventh. Left fielder Troy Scocca of Fairfield University led things off with a double before second baseman Will Savage of Columbia University bunted him over to third. Scocca came home to score on a passed ball to Pinales which put the Bucks up 5-1.
With two outs in the inning, McLemore was hit by a pitch to move Pinales to second with Kraft coming to the plate. Kraft then singled home Pinales to pick up his second RBI of the game and move McLemore to third. McLemore was then able to score on a passed ball to put the Bucks up 7-1.
Both Pinales and McLemore scored two runs for the Bucks and Kraft and Isquirdo had two RBIs. Kraft, Isquirdo and Savage all led the team with two hits apiece.
Kraft’s good day came at the DH position which he believes makes hitting easier because it allows him to be more relaxed focus on hitting. “I thought I was seeing the ball better today,” Kraft said. “Just being on time, making sure I was hitting the ball hard.”
Even though the team is only seven games into the season their personalities seem to be clicking off the field, according to both Kraft and Watt. which should lead to more wins like the one at Fiske Field Thursday evening.
“I love the team,” Kraft said when asked about life on the Island. “I think we have the best team in the Hamptons.”
Watt commented that the team is “meshing” together well and hangs out often. He also said the group is becoming better thanks to resources available on the Island.
“We’re just very fortunate to have the facilities, like the high school gym to let us work out,” he said. “To have this field open to let us throw whenever we want. We’re very appreciative of that.”