The Shelter Island Bucks stumbled out of the gate on the first weekend of the 2016 Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League (HCBL) season, dropping two games before their hometown crowd.
The Bucks lost 9-4 to the Riverhead Tomcats Friday afternoon to open the season at Fiske Field and 7-2 to the visiting Montauk Mustangs Saturday. A doubleheader on the road against Riverhead was rained out Sunday.
Opening day Friday for the Bucks, who won the HCBL championship last year, had pre-game festivities including the first pitch thrown out by Jamie Quinn, the Bucks fiery 2015 coach who guided them to the championship.
The 9 to 4 loss to Riverhead following wasn’t that close. Sloppy play — five errors by the Bucks — and a first inning that was a starting pitcher’s nightmare, cinched the defeat.
Quinton Pile, a right-hander out of Wofford College, gave up five runs before being pulled without recording an out. But Pile wasn’t the only culprit. Sloppy play by the defense added to the misery.
The Bucks chipped away for four runs but it was too little and too late.
But there were positive signs that the Bucks could contend again this year, with lefty Josh Goldberg (Butler University) coming on in relief and shutting down the Tomcats, yielding no earned runs and striking out six with a live fastball complimented by a knee-buckling curve.
The Bucks also showed hustle and determination, even facing a steep uphill climb all game long.
In the loss to Montauk Saturday, the Bucks also showed promise on the mound, with Ian Burns, a Columbia University right-hander, striking out eight Mustangs, featuring a sizzling fastball. Overall, the Shelter Island staff struck out 19 Montauk batters, setting a single game HCBL record.
The Bucks are back at Fiske Field tomorrow, Tuesday, against the Southampton Breakers, looking for their first 2016 win, with the first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m.