By Benito Vila
Good ol’ fashion hardball will be back in Mashashimuet Park for doubleheaders on Sundays starting June 7 and going into August. The players will be using wood bats and taking the field more for a love of the game than money, the team rosters consisting of current NCAA student-athletes.
There is no admission charge to the games, the teams playing at the park–the North Fork Ospreys, the Riverhead TomCats, the Southampton Breakers, the Westhampton Aviators, the Long Island Mustangs and the Sag Harbor Whalers–forming the Kaiser Division of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League.
The East End component of the league was brought to life last year by Montauk resident Rusty Leaver and a host of local volunteers, who saw their Hampton Whalers earn the 2008 Kaiser Division crown. Leaver hopes to expand the program so that it evolves into a local institution along the lines of the Cape Cod Summer League, which has brought together top amateur baseball talent and scouts from professional teams since 1885.
This year’s Sag Harbor entry will feature two former Pierson baseball Whalers, 2005 graduate Mike Labrozzi and 2007 graduate Dan Reiser. Labrozzi is currently batting clean-up for Division III Skyline Conference-leader Farmingdale State, leading his team in home runs while sporting a .290 average. Reiser, a varsity pitcher at Division III Springfield College as a freshman last year, is working through a long rehab from a shoulder injury incurred in an icy slip this winter.
The other Whaler players will be coming from collegiate programs at Rhode Island, Rutgers, Hofstra, Harvard, Seton Hall, Stanford, Fairfield and Lafayette. Their rivals will have players from UNLV, UNC Wilmington, UConn, Notre Dame, Princeton, Iona, Elon, C.W. Post and North Dakota State.