Shelter Island Bucks General Manager Frank Emmett and Assistant GM Dave Gurney were in high spirits before the team’s opener at Fiske Field last Friday afternoon even though the day had delivered just enough precipitation to keep the crowds at bay.
But soon the evening turned warm and clear, getting better with every run the Bucks racked up to beat the Sag Harbor Whalers, 12-2.
Father Peter DeSanctis, pastor of Our Lady of the Isle Church, was on hand to throw out the first pitch. Asked if it was over the plate, Father Peter pretended not to have heard the question.
“Definitely over the plate,” fan Rich Surozenski said. “Over the plate on a bounce.”
Patrick Clyne, the Bucks starting pitcher, went six innings for the win. Clyne, a Long Island native, attends Long Island University, and is staying at Carol Galligan’s home for the season.
From the top of the lineup in the first inning the Bucks made things happen. Leadoff batter Jacob Stracner singled, as did the next batter Steve Barmakian. Jackson Curb singled, and advanced to second on a wild pitch while Stracner and Barmakian scored.
Bucks Head Coach Matt Wessinger, Assistant Coach Peter Barron, Pitching Coach Tim Nolan and several players are still competing in NCAA games, and won’t get to the Island until they lose in the NCAA tournament. In the meantime, the team is in the capable hands of Interim Pitching Coach Ben Bonaventura and Interim Head Coach Vincent Colasuonno.
Two hours before Friday’s game, Coach Colosuonno accepted a job as National Director of Baseball for Poland. It was exciting news, although it will mean he must give up his position as Director of Baseball for Slovenia.
Most of his 31 years in baseball were spent in the United States, but Colosuonno is bullish on baseball’s global expansion. “It’s become really international,” he said. “A kid born and raised in Lithuania made the big leagues this year. Baseball is the same everywhere, [but] the talent level is a little different.”
Asked if there would be a lineup card posted in the dugout, Coach Colosuonno responded with continental flair, “It is de rigueur to put it up before the game.”
Back for a second year with the Bucks is first baseman Brian Goulard, a junior at Fordham University. Interviewed before the game he worried that “we may be a little sloppy at the beginning. Everyone is trying to find their groove.”
The groove was found; Goulard went two for five in the opener with two RBIs and his defensive game flawless. Goulard’s hosts for the summer are Michael and Liz Galle.
The Bucks batboy, Tate Ford, was back for his sixth tour of duty. Tate, 9, has performed his duties with professionalism for more than two-thirds of his life, and he’s getting even better now that the bats are significantly smaller than he is.
Although this is pitcher Matt Aliki’s first season playing with the Bucks, his brother Anthony was here for two of the Bucks previous seasons. Matt, a sophomore at the University of Bridgeport, said the word on the Bucks is good.
“Ever since the league started up I’ve heard a lot of good reviews about it,” he said “I heard a lot of guys got drafted to MLB [Major League Baseball] from here and that it’s a really good community.”
Matt, staying this summer with Chrissy Gross who also hosted Anthony during his summers on the Island, was happy to report that his brother had a workout for the Yankees last Thursday.
Ms. Gross watched the game on the sideline in the company of a tiny fawn-colored bulldog. She introduced the dog, irresistible to all passersby, who was snorting like a piglet, as the new mascot, “L’il Buck.”
Fiske Field never looked more verdant, and one fan theorized the health of the grass was because the land was once in lima beans.
When outfielder Dave Brehm hit a shot to right field in the second inning, no one was more delighted than Brehm’s grandmother, Marie Buscemi. “He’s just a great guy,” she gushed. “His folks are up in Westchester. He’s living with me while he’s here. He can go in and out as he wants.”
With two more home games to follow — all Buck victories, it turned out — three fans took time during a Sag Harbor pitching change to plan the rest of their baseball weekend. “There’s three in a row, but I can’t come on Saturday or Sunday.”
“What’s your excuse?”
“Who gets married on the day of a baseball game?”
“Yeah, marriage can wait. Get married during the football season.”
The game ended with first baseman Brian Goulard’s Gumby-reach-and-grip on the last of the game’s three double-plays to send Sag Harbor back across the water.
Mr. Emmett’s ebullience before the game may cost him his signature ponytail. The Buck’s promising start inspired Mr. Emmet to vow that he would allow Mr. Gurney to chop off the ponytail when the Bucks make the playoffs this year.
Judging from their sensational start winning their first three home games, scissors might be sharpening.