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Stayin’ alive — Bucks in wild card game

JUDY CARD PHOTO Brandon Smith cracking a 2nd inning, 3-run homer against the Southampton Breakers at Fiske Field on Monday.

The Shelter Island Bucks finished fourth in the Hampton Collegiate Baseball League (HCBL) after falling to the Westhampton Aviators in the final game of the regular season on Monday afternoon at Fiske Field.

The Bucks will return to Fiske Field to take on the Southampton Breakers in a wild card game on Wednesday at 4:30. The winner of the wild card will play a three-game series against the first-place Riverhead Tomcats in the first round of the HCBL playoffs.

On Monday, The Bucks stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Brandon Smith (Grand View) launched a 3-run homer, his first of the season. The Aviators responded with 4 runs in the top of the 3rd to go up 4-3. After a scoreless 4th and 5th, Westhampton took control of the game with a 6-run rally in the 6th and cruised to a 15-4 victory.

The loss dropped Shelter Island to 19-21. Sag Harbor also finished with a record of 19-21, but the Whalers were awarded third-place because they defeated the Bucks 4-3 in the season series.

Head Coach Brian Daly is proud of the effort and stamina the team has shown in the second half of the season. “We dealt with a lot of adversity, losing a few key players to injury, illness and personal situations,” he said after Monday’s loss. “On and off the field, I think we did an exemplary job of handling the adversity and maintaining a positive attitude.”

This is the second consecutive season Shelter Island has hosted a postseason game. Last year, the Bucks fell to Sag Harbor 12-11 in the wild card game after finishing the season with a record of 19-19-2.

The first pitch for Wednesday’s game against the Breakers is at 4:30. During the regular season, the Breakers won five of seven games against the Bucks.

Coach Daly is confident his team will respond to the challenge. “We’re going to need to play flawless defense, get quality at bats, and strong starting pitching,” he said. “It’s going to be a true test of character, and an opportunity for our guys to step up and shine.”

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