When the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League Championship Series kicks off this afternoon, the matchup will be an example of from worst to first.
Last season the Southampton Breakers finished dead last in the league while the Shelter Island Bucks finished second to last.
But a new season has brought new players to the respective teams producing new results.
The Breakers won the regular season league title. They then swept the North Fork Ospreys in the first round of the playoffs to advance to face the Bucks for all the marbles after the Islanders swept the Sag Harbor Whalers.
During the regular season, the Breakers finished 22-18 while the Bucks were just a game behind them at 21-19. The two teams met seven times during the regular season with the Bucks winning four.
The Bucks traveled to Southampton twice during the final week of the regular season, just as they will this evening to kick off the series, and lost both matches. The Breakers have now won their last eight games and beat Shelter Island 4-2 and 8-1 during that streak.
Before the Breakers win streak started the last team to beat them was the Bucks on July 19 at Fiske Field, 9-2.
In their first playoff round, the Bucks were led by pitchers Isaac OBear of Grambling State University and Jackson Bubala of Dartmouth College, along with the big bats of Troy Scocca of Fairfield University, Jimmy Jack of Loyola Marymount University and Brian Kraft of Grand Canyon University.
OBear started game one against the Whalers and allowed two early runs before settling down to keep Sag Harbor off the board for the next six innings. During the regular season, OBear had a 1.38 earned run average, second lowest in the league among starters.
Bubala, a reliever, came into the series clinching victory over Sag Harbor with two men on and nobody out in the eighth and proceeded to strike out the next three batters to get out of the inning. He then struck two more out in a perfect ninth inning. Bubala has still not allowed a run this summer and in16.2 innings pitched in the regular season struck out 22 batters.
Scocca had two homers against the Whalers, one in each playoff game, and compiled five runs batted in during the series. Jack and Kraft also hit round trippers.
Andrew Casali of the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Kyle Bartelman of Columbia University did not hit for as much power as some of their teammates did against the Whalers but both had great series at the plate. Casali was five for eight over the two games while Bartelman was six for ten with three runs scored.
Trevor Freeman of Florida Southern College was also a respectable three for eight in the series, scoring four times along the way. Freeman led the Bucks during the regular season with a .330 average.
And while Will Savage, Bartelman’s Columbia teammate, had just two hits in the series, one of them was a big one. Savage’s triple in game two against the Whalers tied the game up and his 19 RBIs during the regular season was second on the team to Scocca’s 20.
Southampton was led in its first playoff series by infielder Mitchell McGeein of Eastern Michigan University. McGeein put up video game-like numbers against the Ospreys going six for nine with two home runs, three doubles and eight RBIs. McGeein hit .308 during the regular season, belting five homers along the way and leading the league with 29 RBIs.
McGeein’s Eastern Michigan teammate Marquise Gill went three for nine in the series against the Ospreys scoring four times after he hit .312 and swiped a league leading 39 bases. Rob Moore of St. Peter’s College had just one hit for the Breakers in the opening series but it was a home-run. Moore hit three homers during the regular season while hitting .351 overall, good for the second best average in the league.
Moore’s St. Peter’s teammate Mark Wilson led the Breakers on the mound pitching a complete game against the Ospreys in game one. He allowed just one run over the nine innings pitched while striking out seven. Wilson’s ERA for the regular season was 1.84 in seven starts.
Ryan O’Connor of Fairfield University had the second lowest ERA on the Breakers for the regular season at 3.14 and gave the Bucks trouble in the final game of the regular season. Over six innings pitched, Shelter Island managed just two hits against O’Connor.
Shelter Island will be chasing its first league crown while Southampton is going its second, having won it all in 2012.