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Bucks start hot out of the gate

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO
Play at the plate kicks up a cloud of dust. Logan Fortenot scores for the Bucks against Riverhead on Saturday with a perfect fade-away slide.

The Shelter Island Bucks capped a four-game winning streak by sweeping a doubleheader against the Riverhead Tomcats at Fiske Field on Saturday.

The Bucks enter the second week of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League season with a record of 6-2, one game behind the 7-1 Sag Harbor Whalers for first-place in the league.
Bucks Head Coach Brian Daly was effusive in praising the team’s performance so far this season.

“This is an amazing group of players,” he said after the games. “They’re hard working, determined, and willing to do what it takes to get better. They never complain, and they’ve given us zero off-the-field issues. Simply put, these guys get it, and they want to go back to school as better players than they were when they came in. That’s what summer ball is all about. Conveniently enough, that also coincides with winning, which is also what we’re all about.”

In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Bucks rallied from a 4-3 deficit in the bottom of the 6th inning, tying the game when Logan Fortenot (Northwestern State) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. The next batter, Justin Murray (Dartmouth), slammed a two-out double to knock in the go-ahead runs.

Starting pitcher Thomas Ippolito (Pace University) earned his second victory of the season, pitching six strong innings and striking out seven batters before reliever Chris Knight (George Washington U) pitched a scoreless 7th inning to earn the save. A week into the season, Ippolito leads the HCBL with 17 strikeouts and two wins in 14 innings. On Monday, he was named the league’s Ace Hardware Pitcher of the Week.

In the second game of Saturday afternoon, starting pitcher Robbie Price (Tulane) tossed a complete game as the Bucks claimed a 1-0 1st-inning lead and coasted to a 5-2 victory. Price took a shutout into the final frame, striking out seven batters and surrendering just five hits and 2 runs to lower his ERA to a league-second-best 1.93.

Bucks right fielder Mike Guanci Jr. (Trinity) continued a torrid stretch at the plate with two singles and two RBI’s on the day. After starting the season 0-7 in the first two games, Guanci Jr. has 11 hits and seven RBI’s in his last 18 at bats and now ranks second among HCBL hitters with a batting average of .440.

On Monday afternoon, the team was getting set to travel to the ferry for a rematch against the Tomcats when they received word from league officials that the game had been canceled due to rain.

Coach Daly and Assistant Coach Nick Chambers offered the players a voluntary practice, making it clear that attendance at the practice was optional and the lineup was already set for the next few games.

“Without hesitation,” Daly said, “every player moved toward the field to get to work instead of jumping in a vehicle to leave. That’s what kind of team we have here. There’s no weak link in our outfit, and that includes players, General Manager John Spinelli, volunteers like Brian Cass, Brian Springer and Frank Emmett, all the post-game meal sponsors like the Lions Club and the Flying Goat, and all the generous host families.

“I’d like to make a special thanks to my host family, DJ and Janet Hanley, as well as Assistant Coach Nick Chambers’ host, Dr. Grand, for their generosity, support, and understanding of the crazy hours we work to try to deliver a championship-caliber team. None of this would be possible without the amazing support of this community. It seems to match the pulse of this team. It’s pretty awesome to be embraced by what some perceive to be a small community in such a short period of time. I heard a chant in the crowd the other day which speaks for itself: ‘Fear the deer!’ I wouldn’t want to play us.”

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