The Shelter Island Bucks are Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League champions.
The Bucks swept the HCBL Championship Series against the Westhampton Aviators Saturday night in a best-of-three matchup to cap a season to remember in Island baseball history.
All nine starters scored in game two of the series, with the visiting Bucks riding a balanced offensive attack to a 12-5 victory over Westhampton at Aviator Field.
After taking the opening game of the finals 10-3 at Fiske Field, Shelter Island travelled to the South Fork on Saturday afternoon with a chance to redeem last year’s heartbreaking loss to Southampton in the championship round.
The Bucks came out of the gate strong, scoring five runs in the first inning, and never looked back as their league-leading offensive pummeled the Aviators for a second consecutive game.
Shelter Island struggled with roster numbers for the entire season and was down to just 20 players entering the playoffs. After using three starting pitchers in the semifinals against Montauk earlier this week, and ace Zack Bahm in the Westhampton opener, the Bucks were forced to rely on four relievers to close out the championship.
Spencer Bunting earned the win after throwing five innings, before the Bucks bullpen nearly shut out the Aviators down the stretch.
An error and a pair of walks allowed Shelter Island to load the bases in the first. With two outs, Jonathan Moroney, the star of Shelter Island’s win on Friday evening, doubled to score Ben Prada and Eddie Haus. Dom Brugnoni and Ryan Sabo added RBI singles before Jack Piekos replaced Westhampton starter Evan Marquardt and recorded the third out.
The Bucks added three more runs in the middle innings, including a home run by designated hitter Chris Hess, before allowing Westhampton to get on the board. The Aviators loaded the bases in the fifth before Tyler Piccolo sent two runners home with a double. Centerfielder Jamie Galazin tripled shortly thereafter to set the score at 8-4, but while Shelter Island’s offense continued to produce down the stretch, Westhampton went cold.
Tyler Brandon replaced Bunting on the mound to start the sixth and pitched two scoreless innings, striking out two Aviators in the process. Ryan Sabo recorded his second RBI of the day in the seventh, while Haus doubled to score Shelter Island’s eleventh run in the eighth. Tim Fallon and Merritt Huber each pitched one inning in relief for the Bucks. Galazin, who was Westhampton’s lone star on the day, tripled again in the ninth, but the rally was quickly ended when Huber induced a pair of pop-outs to finish the game.
It took 47 games over two months, but to the delight of loyal fans, Head Coach Jamie Quinn, General Manager Dave Gurney, and the entire Bucks organization, Shelter Island can finally bring a trophy home to Fiske Field.