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Bucks battle through long home stand

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Ben Schragger pitching against the Westhampton Aviators.
BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Ben Schragger pitching against the Westhampton Aviators.

On Monday, July 18 the Shelter Island Bucks resumed a rain-delayed Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League contest from July 7, which had been called in the fourth inning with the Bucks down 5-2 to the Montauk Mustangs at Fiske Field.

Matters did not improve for the home team as the Mustangs sent 16 men to the plate, scoring 11 times on just three hits in the inning.

Shelter Island played host for five games at Fiske Field between Friday evening and Monday afternoon. Able to salvage just one victory in this home stand, the Bucks fell to 9-22-1, and are 2-8 over their last 10 games.

Friday, July 15, the Southampton Breakers sent Jared Finkel to the mound to face All-Star Peter Beattie for the Bucks. Jesse Russo opened the home first with a ground rule double. Two batters later, Dan Hetzel had an RBI single and the Bucks led 1-0.

Beattie was sharp for three innings, facing the minimum nine batters.

The Breakers took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when a leadoff walk was followed by a Hunter Courson double, a single and an error by first baseman Walker Imwalle.

Beattie struck out Nick Dunning to open the fifth but a wild pitch on the third strike allowed Dunning to reach. After consecutive walks loaded the bases, he scored on a sacrifice fly. The Breakers tacked on one more and they led 4-1 after four.

Southampton plated two more runs in the top of the sixth off reliever Dennis Berardi. The Bucks would strand six men in the bottom of the next two innings to leave Shelter Island down 6-1 in the eighth. One run in each of the last two innings for the home team made it a 6-3 final.

In all, the Bucks would match the Breakers’ total of 13 hits in the game but stranded 16 men.

The first place Westhampton Aviators returned to Fiske Field for a double header on Saturday afternoon, July 16, sending hard throwing All-Star pitcher Reiss Knehr to the mound against Josh Goldberg. Knehr lived up to his 1.05 ERA, allowing just one run on two hits over five innings.

After a clean one-two-three first inning, the Aviators reached Goldberg for three runs in the second and loaded the bases in the fourth before Ben Schragger was called in to relieve with one out. Four runs scored in the fourth and Westhampton never looked back, with a final of Aviators 7, Bucks 1.

In the bottom half of the double header, Quintin Pile of the Bucks was sharp. He shut down the imposing Aviator lineup with just two hits and zero runs over the first four innings.

The Bucks came out swinging in the first with a Christian Molfetta triple followed by singles from Dan Savard and Imwalle and a double off the bat of Nick Campana. The Bucks scored three in the first and one in the second to take a 4-0 lead into the fifth.

Pile seemed to tire in the fifth and a costly error by left fielder Sam Ilario compounded a hit-by-pitch, single, single rally by the Aviators to score two. Chase Malek relieved with two out and the score after five innings was 4-3 Bucks.

Westhampton threatened in the final frame after a two-out single brought slugger Aaron Ping. Malek neatly retired him on a ground ball to second baseman Jesse Russo and the Bucks survived 4-3.

Anthony Alicki matched up against Sam Czabala of the Riverhead Tomcats on Sunday and the Bucks quickly staked him to a six run lead. After scoring one in the first on some small ball, Shelter Island batted around in the second, recording six hits, five runs and chasing Czabala before there was one out.

Alicki, who came in sporting a 0.00 ERA cruised through five innings and, though he tired in the sixth and gave up three hits and a run, he escaped further trouble, stranding three Tomcats.

Nick Rand relieved in the seventh and struck out the side, but the eighth was not nearly so neat.

A walk followed by five consecutive singles chased Rand and left Ben Herbster in a bases-loaded, no-out pickle. All three men on base would score and another to boot and the 6-1 Buck lead had vanished. Riverhead led 8-6.

The Tomcats made it 11-7 with three runs in the top of the ninth but the Bucks gamely fought back. Shelter Island mustered three in the bottom of the ninth to come up one run short and lost 11-10.