The Shelter Island Bucks won three out of four road games this week to claim sole possession of first place in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.
On Tuesday June 11, the Bucks overcame a two-run seventh-inning deficit to defeat the North Fork Ospreys at Cochran Field in Southold.
Osprey starter Jared Bellissimo (Rutgers) dominated the first six innings, limiting the Bucks to three hits and striking out seven while walking none.
But the Bucks broke through when Bellissimo exited the game in the seventh, putting their first three hitters on base before plating their first run of the game on a single by Logan Steenstra (Cowley County CC).
The next batter, Brandon Smith (Grand View), laced a single to knock in the tying and go-ahead runs.
The Bucks added two more runs on a single by Byrce Daniel (Dartmouth) and a double by John Shields (Florida Manatee-Sarasota), taking a 6-2 lead into the eighth. Reliever Jack Metzger (Troy) pitched two innings of scoreless relief as the Bucks claimed their seventh victory of the season.
On Wednesday, the Bucks staged another late-inning rally to defeat the first-place Sag Harbor Whalers at Mashashimuet Park.
The game was tied 3-3 with two outs in the top of the eighth inning when right-fielder Mike Guanci Jr (Trinity) worked a walk to load the bases. A grounder by Dylan Judd, misplayed by the Whaler shortstop, brought home Laurence Fontenot (Northwestern St) and Noah Levin (George Washington U) to give the Bucks a two-run lead. The Bucks added two more runs in the top of the ninth on an RBI single by Levin and a bases-load ed walk to Guanci Jr and coasted to a 7-3 win.
It was the sixth consecutive victory for Shelter Island, lifting the team into a tie with Sag Harbor for first place in the league with a record of 8-2.
On Sunday, the Bucks returned to Cochran Field for a doubleheader against the Ospreys. In the first game of the afternoon, the Bucks leapt out to a 3-0 lead and entered the final frame up 6-5. But the Ospreys rallied in their final at bat. After Anthony Fontana (Furman) and Mathew Heffernan (Fredonia) reached base on walks, Joseph Tardif (Cortland) slammed a clutch double to give the Ospreys a walk-off victory, snapping the Bucks winning streak at six.
In the second game of the doubleheader, the Bucks rolled to a 12-1 win behind another stellar pitching performance from last week’s HCBL Pitcher of the Week, Thomas Ippolito (Pace University). The Randolph, New Jersey native struck nine batters and allowed just two hits in five innings of work to notch his league-leading third win of the season. Ippolito also leads all HCBL pitchers with 26 strikeouts in just nineteen innings.
Bucks centerfielder John Shields led the offensive attack with five RBI, including a two-run triple and a three-run homer, while catcher Andrew Semo (Fordham) slammed his second homer of the season. Guanci Jr.’s third-inning single gave him an eight-game hitting streak and lifted his batting average to a league-best .411.
After the first 12 games of the 36-game regular season, the Bucks stand in first place in the HCBL with a record of 9-3, a half-game ahead of the 9-4 Sag Harbor Whalers.
This weekend, the team returns to Fiske Field, taking on the Whalers on Friday the 21st, and the Long Island Road Warriors on Saturday June 22.