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Year in Review: Bucks bring a championship to Island

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | We are the champions. The Shelter Island Bucks raise high the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League Championship trophy on Aviator Field in Westhampton after sweeping the series in August for the Island's first league championship.

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | We are the champions. The Shelter Island Bucks raise high the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League Championship trophy on Aviator Field in Westhampton after sweeping the series in August for the Island’s first league championship.

It was a dream summer for the 2015 Shelter Island Bucks.

The Island boys racked up the most wins ever for a Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League team, and capped it off with Shelter Island’s first HCBL championship on a sun-splashed Westhampton field in August.

The Bucks went 27-14-1 in the regular season and twice neutralized the Montauk Mustangs heavy-hitting offense in the semi-final championship round before quickly dismantling the second-seeded Westahmpton Aviators in the finals.

“Winning that championship took four years of hard work,” said General Manager Dave Gurney, who has been with the Bucks organization since the team’s inaugural season in 2012. “We got there and accomplished what we wanted to do. I’m proud of all the guys.”

Left fielder Jonathan Moroney was named the Most Valuable Player in the championship series, while several other Bucks also won individual accolades throughout the season.

Head Coach Jamie Quinn was selected to manage the North squad in the All-Star game and led his team to a 2-1 victory. MVP honors in that game were awarded to right fielder Eddie Haus, who also captured the league batting crown after hitting .360 on the season. Chris Hess led the league in RBIs, while shortstop Ben Prada set a team record with 28 stolen bases.

The 2015 season began on a sour note, when Shelter Island’s first two home games were rained out, but the Bucks responded with a fast start, winning six of their first nine games thanks in part to Hess’s strong play. The Bucks quickly cooled, however, and they travelled to Southampton on June 19 with a 7-6 record.

In a game that would come to define the season, the Bucks fell behind 15-1 after eight innings. But then Shelter Island’s offense fired off 8 runs in the final frame, and from that point forward, the Bucks were off to the races.

They rattled off 10 wins in their next 12 games, finishing the regular season with that stellar record of 27 victories.

The Bucks organization is comprised of much more than just collegiate athletes. Mr. Gurney, who put in countless hours both during the preseason and over the summer, praised the dedication of everyone who made the unprecedented successes of 2015 possible: All the families who hosted players (including the Gurneys themselves), the announcers, scoreboard operators and statisticians behind home plate and, of course, the loyal fans who came out to Fiske Field for each and every game.

Mr. Gurney has taken a step back for the 2016 season, handing over the GM reins to Frank Emmett.

Mr. Emmett wasted little time setting the stage to defend the championship. In November he announced the hiring of Casey Buckley, last season’s pitching coach, as the new head coach for the 2016 summer campaign.

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