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Bucks battling for playoff bid

JUDY CARD PHOTOS
Safe! John Shields goes head-first into third, beating the tag during the Bucks home game against Riverhead on July 12.

The Shelter Island Bucks fell to fourth place in the Hampton Collegiate Baseball League after losing to the Sag Harbor Whalers 9-5 at Fiske Field on Monday evening.

It was the ninth loss in 10 games for the Bucks. After racing out to first place with a 12-4 start, Shelter Island has dropped to 17-17 on the season.

“I like where we’re at,” Coach Brian Daly said on Saturday. “It’s just been a war of attrition lately with all the makeup games and doubleheaders and with a limited pitching staff. I couldn’t be prouder of the effort we’ve shown, maintaining a positive attitude and still having fun when most teams cash it in at this point in the summer.”

On Monday, the Bucks leapt out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning as leadoff hitter Laurence Fontenot (Northwestern State) reached base on an error, stole second and third, and scored on a misplayed grounder off the bat of Christian Pierre (St. John’s).

In the top of the second, Sag Harbor tied the game on a bases-loaded walk to Will Strauss (McDaniel). A Whaler single put the visitors up 2-1. The Bucks plated two runs in the bottom of the third, tying the game on an RBI groundout by Joe Gibbs (Florida) and taking a 3-2 lead on a run-scoring single by Eddie Satisky (Chattanooga).

The lead held until the sixth inning, when Sag Harbor picked up two runs on RBI hits by Strauss and Matt Woods (Bryant). A solo homer by Lucas Stalman (Boston College) in the top of the seventh lifted the Whaler lead to 5-3.

The Bucks fought back in the bottom of the seventh, as Fontenot ripped an RBI double, scoring Matt Jenkins (Harvard) and cutting the lead to 5-4. After a single by Pierre, Fontenot scored on an error to tie the game at 5.

But the Whalers rallied for four runs in the top of the eighth and cruised to a 9-5 victory. The victory lifted Sag Harbor to 17-16, a half-game ahead of the Bucks for third place in the HCBL.

With six games to go in the regular season, the Bucks remain four games ahead of the fifth-place North Fork Ospreys. The top three teams automatically make the postseason, with the fourth- and fifth-place teams squaring off in a Wild Card game.

“All that really matters is who wins the last game of the season,” Coach Daly said. “We’ve been telling the guys to keep grinding and trust the process. We’re still in good position for the stretch run.”

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