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Shelter Island Bucks wrap an up-and-down season: Best hitting team, sported top pitcher

After an exciting, but roller coaster season in the win-loss column, the Shelter Island Bucks were eliminated from a playoff berth in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League (HCBL). However, it was a tight race, with the Bucks coming up just short.

Led by General Manager Brian Cass, the Shelter Island fans came together to reinstate their beloved Bucks this summer. After completing the roster — although being limited in the number of pitchers — the Bucks played solid baseball for Shelter Island throughout the season. Loyal fans agreed it was an amazing effort from everyone involved, with Fiske Field hosting some exciting games.

Head Coach Vern Hasty said that “it was a pleasure to coach these guys. I’ve coached a lot of college baseball, but these guys off the field were the best group I’ve ever coached, which tells you a lot about their character.”

Coach Hasty pointed to  a major highlight this season — the Bucks at the plate, with the team finishing as the number one hitting team in the HCBL. A standout hitter, first baseman Blake Salamon (Northwood U) backed up Coach Hasty’s praise with his solid statistics, taking home the crown of the best hitter in the league.

A .408 batting average combined with his 24 RBIs in 29 games played, and three home runs showcased his talent and importance to the Bucks this season. Right with him were his teammates: center fielder Ryan Vogel (Bradley U) who had a .299 average, 22 RBIs and 20 stolen bases; Conor Kiely (Stonehill Col) who hit for a .336 average with 24 RBIs and 14 stolen bases: and infielder Jack Lincoln (Bradley U) who had a .301 batting avg, with 25 RBIs.

In the pitching department, Max Brulport showed his fine form — he was named best pitcher in the league — with a team-best ERA of 3.42, and was the workhorse of the staff with the most innings pitched. Brulport almost pulled off the 8th no-hitter in HCBL history in a game against the Southampton Breakers.

A lack of relief pitching hurt the Bucks late in games and may have cost them their playoff spot. Next season, General Manager Brian Cass is focused on getting the right number of pitchers to help even out the load.

When looking at the season as a whole, the Bucks were tough opponents; an extraordinary team at times. A few extra wins would have put them at the top of the league.

Coach Hasty and GM Cass agreed that they would have been in first place had they accumulated more pitchers. Coach Hasty said that because the team “had the best batting and at times the worst fielding in the league, there was no happy medium. It’s hard to be in the middle and win games.”

Bucks management and fans were thrilled to be back on Fiske Field this summer, and are already looking forward to the Bucks making their mark in the summer of 2023.