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Strong arms, defense keep Shelter Island Bucks contending

BEVERLEA WALZ  PHOTO | Bucks righthander Max Watt went went the distance against the North Fork Ospreys for a win.
BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Bucks righthander Max Watt went went the distance, shutting out the North Fork Ospreys for a win.

Following a 3-0 loss to the North Fork Ospreys in game one of a doubleheader at Fiske Field Wednesday afternoon, the Shelter Island Bucks knew they would have to get their offense rolling to bag a win in the second game.

A five run fourth inning provided the Bucks with more than enough offense to come away with a win and move their record back to .500 at 6-6 for the season.

The big fourth inning began when designated hitter Juan Soriano of Louisiana State University Eunice walked with one out.

Third baseman John LaRossa of the University of Hartford followed Soriano with a single moving him to third, putting him in position to score on a passed ball that put the Bucks up 2-0. LaRossa then stole second and scored score on a double by catcher Dylan Isquirdo of San Mateo College.

After a groundout gave the Bucks their second out of the inning, left fielder Andrew Casali of the University of Maryland Baltimore County doubled, plating Isquirdo and made the score 4-0. Keeping the inning alive, second baseman Darien McLemore of the University of Texas Arlington walked to bring up first baseman Jimmy Jack of Loyola Marymount University with two on and two outs. Jack came though with a single to bring home both teammates.

The big inning helped Bucks’ starter Max Watt relax on the mound. “I took a big deep breath after that inning because a nothing-nothing game seems pretty tense and keeps you on edge, but once you get a couple of runs it takes the pressure off you,” Watt said. Watt pitched the complete seven-inning game allowing no runs and six hits. He also proved to be quite the escape artist, leaving multiple runners on base in three different innings.

“I wasn’t able to get ahead of batters early in the game but the defense was incredibly helpful throughout the game making great plays for me,” Watt commented later. “It’s really fun pitching with a defense like that behind me.”

Manager Jon Karcich was quick to praise Watt for his performance on the mound and how it affected the game as a whole. “It started on the mound with Max. He set the tone early, gave us a bunch of zeroes and gave us a chance to score and we took the lead,” Karcich said. “When a guy’s throwing as well as he was it’s easy to play defense behind him and it’s easy to score runs.”

Strong pitching from Bucks’ starting pitchers is not something new. Only once this season has a Buck starter allowed more than three runs. The pitching staff has only allowed 36 runs on the season, which is by far the least allowed by a team in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.

Brenton Arriaga of Loyola Marymount started the first game for the Bucks and even though he did not get the win, he put up a strong performance of his own. Arriaga allowed three runs and six hits over five innings pitched.

The Ospreys scored two in bottom of the second of game one after left fielder Nick Day reached on a double and scored on a single by designated hitter Alex Bell. Bell then scored on a passed ball later in the inning to put North Fork up 2-0. In the bottom of the third the Ospreys would plate another run after Bell singled and then came around to score later on a single by catcher Chris Gaffrey.

Even after the loss in the first game the Bucks were able to leave Fiske Field in high spirits following a win before they play four games on the road this weekend, including a Friday night game at Riverhead where they matchup against another strong pitching staff.

Even though their 6-6 record does not jump off the page at you, this Bucks’ team looks strong. Watt believes he knows why.

“The team as a whole is just coming together and playing,” Watt said after the game two win. “Everyone is friends on the team, we all hang out every night. I feel that helps us immensely because we’re comfortable. We have each other’s backs and we’re comfortable.”