The 2014 Shelter Island Bucks are establishing themselves as comeback kids.
Again, in their most recent game at Fiske Field against the Montauk Mustangs on Wednesday evening, they came back to win 8-5 after trailing by three runs. The win moved their record to 9-8 on the season.
With the Bucks trailing 5-4 in the bottom of the sixth, a bases loaded triple by second baseman Will Savage of Columbia University was a game changer, putting the home team ahead 7-5. Savage then scored on a sacrifice fly by left fielder Troy Scocca of Fairfield University. The triple was a part of a three-hit day for Savage, in which he also scored three runs and had three RBIs.
“It was a situation I was just trying to put the ball in play,” Savage commented on the triple. “I got a pitch out over the plate and I was able to stay back on it and drove the ball the other way.”
Bucks’ manager Jon Karcich noted that Savage was down 0-2 in the at-bat before working the count to 3-2 before tripling. Karcich called it a “great at-bat” after the game.
The Mustangs never had a single big inning, but built a lead scoring runs in four of the game’s first five innings. When they plated two runs in the top of the fifth, it was the lone time in the game the Mustangs scored multiple runs in an inning.
In the top of the first, the Mustangs had the bases loaded with nobody out but managed to score only one run. Bucks’ starter Max Watt of Lynn University induced a ground ball double play to help himself out of the early jam. Again, in the top of the second the Mustangs managed just one run after having men on first and second and then first and third with no outs. Right fielder Brian Kraft of Grand Canyon University gunned down a runner at home after he caught a pop up to help limit the Mustangs.
While the Mustangs managed to score five runs off of Watt in his five innings pitched, they could not figure out the Bucks’ bullpen pitchers. Nick Lawrence of Louisiana State University at Eunice pitched scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh allowing just one hit while striking out three. Lawrence’s performance shutting down the Mustangs after the Bucks took the lead put him in position for victory.
Lawrence said after the game that it was “definitely the best he has felt since he got here.” Even though he started the summer coming out of the bullpen for the Bucks, the last few times he pitched he started, so it was a bit of an adjustment for him to get back into relief mode.
“It’s hard to get your mind set,” Lawrence said. “When you’re starting and relieving it’s a whole different area to mentally prepare. I was told I was coming out of the pen early in the game and I got myself ready.”
Isaac OBear of Grambling State University and Michael Steensen of the University of Akron pitched an inning of scoreless relief also for the Bucks with Steensen picking up the save.
After the Mustangs scored in the top of the first the Bucks answered back in the bottom of the first with a run of their own. Savage kicked off the inning reaching base on an infield hit before Scocca singled. A double play gave the Bucks two out but moved Savage to third. Savage then stole home to put the team on the board.
The Bucks also tacked on a run in the bottom of the fourth. First baseman Juan Soriano doubled with one out before advancing to third. Soriano then scored after tagging up on a pop up in foul territory.
“Great second half of the game,” Karcich said after the victory. “Offense stuck with it and kept going. They were aggressive and had great at-bats. Our bullpen kept us right there and we were able to capitalize on their mistakes.”
With their 9-8 record the Bucks are tied for fourth place in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, a game behind the first place North Fork Ospreys. The top four teams in the league make the playoffs in early August.