Featured Story

Bucks battling for playoffs: The Reporter sits down with Head Coach Vern Hasty

After a loss to the South Shore Clippers at home on July 5, the Shelter Island Bucks showed their fight in the form of three straight bounce-back wins last week.

On July 7 the Bucks hosted the Southampton Breakers, coming away with a 10-8 win after a huge 2nd inning. Going into the bottom of the inning the Bucks scored 8 runs and never looked back.

Shelter Island’s franchise in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League then played a doubleheader against the North Fork Ospreys, winning both games through consistent defense and steady offense. The bats came alive for the Bucks, winning the first game 10-5 and in the nightcap, the Islanders stayed hot at the plate, taking the game 8-2.

But the streak was stopped with a 12-8 loss to the Breakers, followed by a match against Sag Harbor, where the Whalers showed why they are first in the league with a 10-0 shutout.

Currently in 5th place in the league with 23 points, the Bucks are still in the hunt, trailing the Westhampton Aviators and Breakers by only 3 points.

The Reporter sat down recently with Head Coach Vern Hasty for a Q&A.

Q: What’s the major strength of your team?

Coach Hasty: Our strength is our well-rounded hitters. We have the best lineup out there and it’s shown by our batting numbers and the fact that we generally have no trouble creating opportunities. Also, the pitchers that we have are quality. Our weakness has nothing to do with the quality of our pitchers.

Q: What is that weakness?

Coach Hasty: Our weakness is definitely the lack of pitchers. We just don’t have enough. Some have gone down to injury, plus the roster just didn’t have enough pitchers originally. It hurts us late in games. We’re starting our few pitchers and are forced to leave them in for extended periods of time. If we had two or three more pitchers, we’d be in first place.

Q: Which players have surprised you?

Coach Hasty: Ryan Vogel’s speed has been a huge help. He’s leading the league in steals. Blake Salamoon is the best hitter in the league. Conor Kiely, he’s been hitting well above average and has also been huge for us. These guys have all really stepped up.

Q: What’s been the response from the fans and the community?

Coach Hasty: The response from the fans has been great. After being gone for two years, the community has been amazing in supporting our players. We’re still working toward the number of turnouts we had a couple years ago, but it’s been much better recently.

Q: Biggest surprise of the season so far?

Coach Hasty: The biggest surprise has been how our first baseman steps out from the rest. Blake Salamoon is definitely a top pro prospect. He’s truly eye-opening.