This past weekend the Shelter Island Bucks played their 20th game of the season, marking the halfway point of their Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League season. The 11-11 Bucks are currently tied for fourth in the standings, two games out of first place in the league where the top four teams make the playoffs.
The highlight of the weekend for the Bucks was a 14-1 pounding of the Westhampton Aviators — the team they are tied with for the final playoff spot — on Friday evening at Fiske Field. After allowing the Aviators to score one in the top of the first inning, starting pitcher Nick Freijomil of Long Island University Brooklyn shut them down for the next five innings while the Bucks’ offense went to work.
The Islanders got on the board in the bottom of the second thanks in part to a couple of throwing errors by the Aviators. With a 2-1 lead in the following inning, the Bucks’ offense really came alive.
Walks to the first three batters had the bases loaded and nobody out. Right fielder Brian Kraft of Grand Canyon University then singled home a run. With the bases still loaded, a walk by designated hitter Juan Soriano of Louisiana State University-Eunice forced in a run. A sacrifice fly plated another Bucks run to make the score 5-1.
But the big damage of the inning for the Bucks was still to come. Third baseman Troy Scocca of Fairfield University blasted a three-run home run with two outs to put the Bucks up 9-1. The home run was the first of the season at Fiske Field for a Bucks player.
“I got ahead of the count and a good pitch to hit,” Scocca said after the game.
He believes the team has been unable to hit the ball out at home due to the dimensions of the park and its deep outfield. Scocca was not too worried about the deep outfield’s affect on the team overall, however, since, he said, “It’s been really tough on the hitters, but we’ve been able to hit the gaps a lot.”
The Bucks offense went quiet for a few innings before putting up another crooked number in the bottom of the seventh. The team scored five runs, all with two outs, thanks in part to a single by second baseman Will Savage of Columbia University who had four hits in the game and scored twice.
Manager Jon Karcich contributed the strong hitting to sticking to doing what his team knows best. “I think they did a fantastic job of sticking with their approach, not chasing pitches out of the zone,” Karcich said.
Of course not to be overlooked amid all the offense was the performance by Freijomil. The starter pitched six innings allowing just the first inning run while issuing only one walk and striking out six Aviators. Jackson Bubala of Dartmouth University also threw three scoreless innings in relief for the Bucks.
Freijomil also demonstrated some gold glove defense in the field when he made a spectacular behind the back catch on a line drive that was hit right at him in the top of the third inning. Afterwards he described the play as “cool,” and just hoped somebody caught it on camera.
On Saturday the team headed to the North Fork to take on the Ospreys in a doubleheader. The two teams split the doubleheader with the Bucks winning game one, 6-1.
Starting pitcher Brandon Kacer of Elon University went six innings allowing just one run while striking out four to add to his team leading 25 strikeouts, the second highest total in the league. The Bucks’ offense was led by designated hitter Jimmy Jack of Loyola Marymount University and first baseman Juan Soriano who had two runs batted in a piece. The Bucks dropped game two to the Ospreys in eleven innings by a score of 4-3.
The team returned to Fiske Field on Sunday evening to take on the first place Sag Harbor Whalers. In the bottom of the first the Bucks quickly got on the board after a doubly by Jimmy Jack scored Will Savage to put the home team up 1-0.
The Bucks would then tack on two more runs in the bottom of the second after designated hitter Dylan Isquirdo of the College of San Mateo scored on a misplayed bunt. Another error by the Whalers would allow second baseman Kyle Bartelman of Columbia University to score and put the home team ahead 3-0.
The early lead would hold for the Bucks until the top of the eighth when the Whalers tied the game at three. The game would go to the eleventh inning, when the Whalers loaded the bases with no outs and scored four runs to go ahead 7-4. A single in the bottom of the inning was all the Bucks could muster before falling in a game many thought they had won.
The team ended their weekend with a 8-4 loss on the road at the Montauk Mustangs on Monday. Late inning home-runs by Jimmy Jack and right fielder Andrew Casali of the University of Maryland Baltimore prevented a shutout.
Following two days off, the Bucks will return to action and look to end their three game losing streak Thursday, July 3, at home against North Fork, one of the teams they are chasing in the standings.