Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League (HCBL) play opens next month with seven brand new rosters competing over a 42 game regular season followed by playoffs in late July.
Every season in the HCBL means a fresh start.
Whether you are winning a championship, which the Shelter Island Bucks — home opener is Friday, June 2 — did two years ago, or struggling as the Bucks did in 2016, the makeup of teams change almost completely for every campaign.
Rosters have been pieced together by HCBL’s director of recruiting, Brett Mauser. Coaches and players are coming together quickly as college seasons come to an end with summer ball set to begin.
The HCBL coaches familiarize themselves with their players by talking to their college coaches, watching video and following statistics. Once rosters are decided, the coaches will start the season with about 27 players per team.
Reached recently, Bucks first-year Head Coach Matt Wessinger explained his baseball philosophy: “I try not to change who they are. That’s what got them recruited in the first place. I have an approach to fielding and hitting I believe in, but I’ll work with the players and try to enhance what they are.”
Coach Wessinger said that by interacting and working with players all the time he can best figure out what they have and what they need.
With power-hitting junior first baseman Brian Goulard of Fordham as the only returning player, the Bucks will depend on a roster composed primarily of underclassmen.
The Reporter spoke to returning Assistant Coach Peter Barron, who is also the director of baseball operations at St. Johns University. Coach Barron said the HCBL is one of the better developmental summer college programs and so the prevalence of younger players is league-wide. He added that “it is more fun to coach young players who maybe haven’t cracked their college lineups yet.”
Matt Alicki, younger brother of two-year Buck standout hurler Anthony Alicki, looks to be a “top of the rotation guy” according to Coach Barron. The 12-man pitching staff will get plenty of work over the two months of the season.
The Bucks should have a solid infield anchoring the defense. Joining Goulard will be Robert Fulkerson of Southern New Hampshire, a big-time recruit out of Anaheim, California; Nick Sogard of Loyola Marymount; and Elijah Brown of Sacred Heart.
Coach Wessinger, a standout infielder in his own right in college and the minor leagues, believes being strong up the middle is fundamental to success. “Pitchers are trying to get ground balls,” he said, “so if we can be solid defensively in the infield and turn double plays and limit at bats, we should be O.K.”
Bringing back Coach Barron was important because of his familiarity with Shelter Island, Coach Wessinger added. “Pete can help impart to the players what is expected of them as guests and as temporary members of the community,” he said
As ever, Bucks need housing. If you have the room and would like to volunteer to host a Buck for the season, contact Dave Gurney at (631) 433-1502. Currently the team is looking for four more accommodations.
The Bucks open the season with a three-game homestand at Fiske field starting on Friday, June 2 at 5 p.m. vs. Sag Harbor.