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Shelter Island Bucks at .500 going into break

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Brian Kraft rockets a triple in Wednesday evening's game against Sag Harbor at Fiske Field.

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Brian Kraft rockets a triple in Wednesday evening’s game against Sag Harbor at Fiske Field.

In their final game before the three-day All-Star Game break, the Shelter Island Bucks could not manage a win against the Sag Harbor Whalers at Fiske Field Wednesday evening.

The Whalers led 3-0 by the bottom of the second on their way to a 7-3 victory that dropped the Bucks’ record to 14-14 on the season. The Islanders are tied with the Riverhead Tomcats for the final playoff spot in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.

After the Whalers plated three runs in the first two turns at bat the Bucks responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the second. After Troy Scocca of Fairfield University singled to kick off the inning he advanced to third on a ground out and a passed ball.

Scocca then came around to score on a triple by Brian Kraft of Grand Canyon University. The triple was Kraft’s third of the season, which leaves him tied for the league lead. With one out, Kraft came home on a sacrifice bunt by Scott Donaghue of Quinnipiac University.

After the Whalers tacked on another run in the top of the fourth, the Bucks put one more on the board in the home half of the inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Jimmy Jack of Loyola Marymount University was hit by a pitch, which brought home Donaghue and made the score 4-3.

The Bucks were unable to add any more runs after the fourth, despite having the bases loaded three other times. The team left the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the third, eighth and ninth.

Bucks’ Manager Jon Karcich said after the game that his team could have put the ball in play more in those situations. “Sometimes we get those clutch hits and sometimes we don’t,” Karcich said. “Guys need to do a better job of putting the ball in play with two strikes. We struck out way too much tonight.”

While the Bucks struggled to get the timely hits with two outs or the bases loaded, the Whalers cashed in their opportunities. In each of the first four innings the Whalers put their first runner on with two outs. Three of those times they managed to score.

“We gave them extra chances and they took advantage of them so you have to tip your cap to them,” Karcich said.

Despite the loss, Karcich is still happy with his team’s position going into the All-Star break. He thinks the days off will be “essential” to the team in terms of resting up and recovering before the final playoff push.

Bucks’ starter Nick Freijomil of Long Island University pitched four innings in the game allowing four runs, two of which were earned. Of the four pitchers to make appearances in the game for the Bucks, only Jackson Bubala of Dartmouth College did not allow a run.

Bubala first came into the game in the top of the eighth with the bases loaded and one out. He struck out the first batter he faced before getting the next to ground out to end the inning. Bubala then pitched a 1-2-3 top of the ninth as he continued to do what he has done all summer for the Bucks — pitch lights out in relief.

In 12 innings pitched in relief this summer, Bubala has allowed no runs and struck out 16 batters. Those numbers earned Bubala the honor of being named a league All-Star.

Karcich said Bubala is going to be a “big part” of the bullpen the rest of the season as they make a playoff run.

Bubala wasn’t quick to take all the credit for the numbers he’s put up. He praised the rest of his team and the defense he has behind him plus said the coaches have helped him find success.

Maybe part of the reason Bubala has been having a good summer on the field is he’s enjoying himself away from it,

“You couldn’t ask for a better summer than being out in the Hamptons playing baseball,” he said.