The Shelter Island Bucks battled back from a 9-2 deficit, but fell to the Westhampton Aviators 12-11 in a thrilling Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League game at Fiske Field on Wednesday evening.
The visitors took control of the game in the top of the fourth inning, plating seven runs on a flurry of singles against starting pitcher Parker Thode (Grand View), and adding two more runs in the fifth to take a 9-2 lead.
Two exceptional defensive plays by the Bucks fielders prevented the Aviators from putting the game out of reach. In the 7-run fourth inning, shortstop Mike Casaleggio (Marist) chased down a looping drive to left field, caught the ball over his shoulder and threw to first-baseman Alex Volpi (Holy Cross) to complete a double play.
In the next inning, with runners on second and third, outfielder John Behrends (Belmont) made an incredible backhanded catch on a deep drive to left field, robbing the Aviators of an extra-base hit that would have broken the game open.
The Bucks scored 2 runs in the bottom of the fifth to trim the lead to five. In the sixth, Mike Nyisztor (Rutgers) lined a bases-loaded double to the right-center-field fence, bringing the Bucks within 2 runs. After a run-scoring groundout by Behrends, Volpi ripped a single past the glove of the third-baseman to tie the game. A single by Dylan Robertson (St. Mary’s) capped the comeback, giving the Bucks a 10-9 lead entering the seventh inning.
The lead held until the top of the ninth. Making his Bucks debut, pitcher Lucus Sossei (UMass Lowell) worked three scoreless innings of relief, striking out four batters, before surrendering a deep game-tying solo homer to shortstop Tyler Becker (Adelphi). The Aviators added two more runs to reclaim the lead, 12-10.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Bucks threatened to make a second comeback. Cal Christofori’s (Yale) sacrifice fly to right field cut the lead to one and pushed the potential winning run to second base, but Casallegio grounded out to end the game.
“We showed really good character coming back,” Coach Darryn Smith said afterward. “It was a good game for the fans. And I think it was a sign of good things to come for the team.”
The loss dropped the Bucks to 2-3 on the season.
In his second game with the Bucks, Christofori led the team with four hits in five at bats, lifting his batting average to .571. Volpi’s run-scoring single in the sixth gave him a league-leading seven RBI’s on the season, to go along with three home runs.