Featured Story

Bucks drop twin bill — Volpi on pace to set league home run record

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Bucks John Behrends at the plate Sunday against Sag Harbor at Fiske Field.
Bucks John Behrends at the plate Sunday against Sag Harbor at Fiske Field.

The Shelter Island Bucks played a pair of tightly contested Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League (HCBL) games against the Sag Harbor Whalers at Fiske Field on Sunday.

In the first game, Whalers starter Michael Marzonie (Boston College) limited the Bucks to four hits in seven innings and first baseman Jason Allberry (Creighton) slammed his third homer of the season as Sag Harbor claimed a 4-3 victory.

The game was tied 3-3 entering the top of the sixth, when the Whalers capitalized on a pair of walks and a wild pitch by Bucks reliever Colby McMahon (Keene State) to plate the go-ahead run.

In the bottom half of the final inning, Cal Christofori (Yale) lined a leadoff infield single, bringing the potential winning run to the plate for the Bucks. With two outs, shortstop Jake McKenzie (Fordham) smashed a deep drive to leftfield, prompting fans to rise from their seats. But Whalers leftfielder Harry Hegeman (Yale) caught the ball at the fence to secure the win for Sag Harbor.

The second game of the afternoon was a pitcher’s duel. Bucks starter Justin Wade held the Whalers to one run in the first four innings, striking out four batters and Matthew Aufiero (Sacred Heart) pitched three innings of scoreless relief, lowering his ERA to 2.30 on the season.

Meanwhile, Bucks hitters managed just one run on six hits against Sag Harbor’s starting pitcher David Gately (Catholic University), and the game went into extra innings tied 1-1.

In the top of the extra inning, Whalers infielder Leo Horacio (Northwest Florida State) ripped a one-out pinch-hit double to leftfield. Horacio advanced to third base on an infield single by DH Nick Thornquist (McLennan CC), who is currently leading the HCBL in hitting with a .547 average. A sacrifice fly off the bat of Allberry gave the Whalers a 2-1 lead entering the bottom of the inning.

In their final at bat, the Bucks battled back to tie the game. After a leadoff walk to Christofori, Brett Holtz (Columbia) set down a perfect sacrifice bunt. A throwing error advanced the runners to second and third. Second baseman Mike Casallagio (Marist) drove a sacrifice fly to right field to score Christofori, but the Bucks failed to get the winning run across and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.

Approaching the midpoint of the HCBL season, the Bucks are in sixth place in the league with a record of 7-10-2.

“We’ve lost some tough games as a result of fundamental errors,” Coach Darryn Smith said after Sunday’s doubleheader, “but we’re making the necessary adjustments. I think we have what it takes to have a strong second half and compete for the title.”

First baseman Alex Volpi (Holy Cross) continued a sensational season at the plate, winning his second New Era Cap Player of the Week Award in three weeks after batting .417 with five home runs and 9 RBI in his last five games.

In the Bucks 8-4 victory over the Aviators in Westhampton on June 20, Volpi went 5-5 with three home runs and six RBI, tying a league record with 14 total bases in a single game. With a league-leading 10 home runs in the first 19 games of the season, Volpi is on pace to shatter the HCBL single-season record of 13 home runs, set by Westhampton’s Aaron Ping in 2016.