A three-run third inning was all the Southampton Breakers needed to beat the Shelter Island Bucks and take game one in the 2014 Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League Championship Series, 3-0.
The Breakers will now look to end the season with a wintoday on Shelter Island while the Bucks hope to force a deciding game in the best-of-three series with a victory in front of their hometown fans.
First pitch at Fiske Field will be at 4 p.m. today
The Islanders had the right man up in top of the ninth with two on and nobody out in Kyle Bartelman of Columbia University.
Bartelman was six for ten with three runs scored in Shelter Island’s first playoff series against the Sag Harbor Whalers. But this time Bartelman and the Bucks could not stage another comeback as he grounded into a double play before a fly out ended the game.
Both of the Bucks’ victories against the Whalers that moved them into the championship series were come from behind victories, so there was hope among the many spirited Shelter Island fans who made the trip to Southampton that their team could still win the game even if they looked lifeless at the plate for much of the contest.
Over the first eight innings the Bucks managed just two hits off Breakers’ starter Tim Ingram.
Following the game, Bucks’ manager Jon Karcich struggled to find a reason why his team struggled at the plate.
“Just one of those days,” Karcich said. “I can’t say it was this or that, it was just one of those days. They happen. The message is we just have to continue to do what we’ve done all summer and stick with our approaches and that’ll give us the best shot to win.”
The Breakers themselves didn’t rack up a lot of hits either in the game but they got the job done when they had to. With one out in the bottom of the third, Bucks’ starter Max Watt of Lynn University walked Jake ORouke before Donovan May reached on an infield single and Marquise Gill singled to left to load the bases for Mitch McGeein.
McGeein was a nightmare for the North Fork Ospreys in the Breakers’ first round playoff series going six for nine with two home runs, three doubles and eight RBIs.
Before McGeein could even do any damage Southampton found their way onto the board after a passed ball allowed the first run of the game to score and moved up the runners on second. McGeein then came through with his only hit of the game with a single to left that plated the two runners and put the Breakers up 3-0.
Karcich and Watt both pointed to the one out walk as a turning point in the inning because the 3-2 pitch was a “borderline pitch” according to Karcich. Watt admitted that he “lost his mindset a little” following the call against him and that may have contributed to the damage done by the Breakers, but he also said that you have to “respect the strike zone.”
Watt was able to work his way out of the third without allowing any more damage after the three runs scored. The lone inning was truly the only blip on Watt’s day as he struck out 10 Breakers and walked only one over eight innings pitched.
“It felt good. I was working the outside part of the strike zone pretty well,” Watt commented. “Just that third inning I wasn’t making the right pitches and wasn’t getting the spots I wanted to and that led to the three runs that they scored throughout the game.”
For Karcich the performance was what he expected from Watt.
The win was the ninth straight for the Breakers — their last loss was to the Bucks at Fiske Field on July 19.
As Shelter Island now tries to end Southampton’s win streak at nine and even up the series they will send Isaac OBear of Grambling State University to the mound. OBear pitched to the tune of a 1.38 ERA during the regular season, the second best in the league, and allowed just two runs over seven innings of work in the Bucks’ playoff opener at Sag Harbor.
The Bucks’ will also have their full bullpen rested and ready to go in case needed thanks to Watt going the distance in the loss.
Karcich said he is “excited to play in front of the home crowd” with his team’s season on the line and despite the loss he doesn’t expect drastic measures to go out and win game two.
“Just get back to work. Nothing crazy,” Karcich said about the Bucks’ approach for the game. “Just even up the series like we’ve been doing all summer. Stick with their approaches. Nobody needs to be a hero in the first or third inning. Just be aggressive.”
The game is scheduled for today at Fiske Field at 4 p.m.