The Shelter Island Bucks notched their first victory of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League season in their home opener on Sunday afternoon, defeating the North Fork Ospreys 4-3 before a spirited crowd at Fiske Field.
It was a bounce back victory for the Bucks, who were shut out on the road against the Riverhead Tomcats Saturday to open the 2019 campaign.
On Sunday, the visiting Ospreys leapt out to an early 2-0 lead when Justin Meyer (Richmond) singled to score Mason LaPlante (Yale) in the top of the 1st inning.
Bucks starting pitcher Trevor Olson (Xavier) held the Ospreys scoreless for the next five innings, striking out 10 batters and yielding just six hits. Meanwhile, Opreys starter Josh Rovner (Adelphi) limited the Bucks to just two hits in the first five frames.
The Bucks picked up their first run of the season in the bottom of the 3rd. After working a full-count walk to lead off the inning, catcher Christian Pierre (St. John’s) stole second and third bases before scoring on a two-out wild pitch. The Ospreys added a run in the top of the 6th on an RBI single by Joseph Tardif (Cortland) to take a 3-1 lead.
But the Bucks finally broke through in the bottom of the 6th. A leadoff double by Nick Fazio (Springfield College) got the rally going. After Noah Levin (George Washington U) reached first on an error, Larson Fontenot (Northwestern State) walked to load the bases with no outs.
Mike Guanci Jr.’s (Trinity) infield grounder to third-base scored two runs to tie the game at 3, and Dylan Judd (UMass Amherst) knocked in the go-ahead run with a grounder to the shortstop, giving the Bucks a 4-3 lead entering the seventh inning.
The Bucks held for the win thanks to a superb relief pitching performance by Thomas Ippolito (Pace University). Ippolito struck out six batters and limited the Ospreys to just one hit in 3 and a 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to secure the victory.
Combined, the two Bucks pitchers struck out 16 batters, just three short of the league’s single-game record.
“Our pitching has been outstanding,” Coach Brian Daly said after the game. “We’ve allowed just 3 earned runs in our first two games. And we still don’t have a full pitching staff. At the plate, we’re starting to gel. We’re getting quality at bats, we’re being aggressive on the bases, and over the course of the season, the law of averages, our bats will start heating up. Once that happens, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”
The Bucks play three road games this week before returning to Fiske Field to take on the Southampton Breakers on Friday at 5 p.m.
On Saturday, the Bucks host a doubleheader against the Riverhead Tomcats.
“We were really pleased with the turnout at the home opener,” Coach Daly said. “The crowd was very supportive. Hopefully, we’ll continue to win at home, and more and more fans will come out to see us.”