By Andrew Rudansky
The baseball idiom “he’s due” is used to describe a player in a slump that is bound to perform big. Before their 2004 World Series win the Boston Red Sox were due. In the search of Home Run number 600 Alex Rodriguez is due. The Sag Harbor Whalers are certainly in a slump, but in no ways can they be considered out.
With a largely disappointing season coming to a close the Whalers are still hanging onto hopes for a run in the Hampton Collegiate League playoffs. The Whalers record, after a three game win-streak, stands at 16 and 22. This record puts the team in fourth place and gives them, for now, the final spot in the post-season games. Their playoff berth is far from secure from the last place Southampton Breakers, who are only half a game behind the Whalers with a record of 14 and 21.
Even Whalers General Manager Tom Gleeson was unsure about the team’s playoff hopes. “when are in, we are in,” said Gleeson, “It’s still up in the air…”
To make matters even dicer for the Whalers their final three games on the regular season schedule will be against the Riverhead Tomcats and the Hamptons Collegiate League defending champions Westhampton Aviators, in third and second place respectively. If the whalers want to make it to the playoffs they will have to win these games or hope the Breakers stumble even further back.
Like last season, the Whalers have struggled all year, never stringing together a win-streak longer than their current one. Since July 14, the Whalers have only won four out of 11 games, and even if they win their next three games they won’t have an even .500 season. All of this is troubling news for Whalers fans, but that hasn’t stopped the team from recently striving for post-season glory in a late season push.
After going one and six last week, the Whalers looked like they were going to go home early, the only team not to make the playoffs for a second straight year. Things looked even more bleak when the Whalers dropped the first game of their double header against the Breakers on Saturday, July 24.
After the 9-4 defeat, one decided by a tie-breaking ninth inning, the Whalers bullpen struck back. Whalers’ righty pitcher Tom Cardona pitched all seven innings of the second game without allowing a single run. Cardona struck out ten batters in the shutout.
Ryan Kresky went three for three at the plate, driving in one runner, in the Whalers 3-0 victory.
The next day the Whalers took on the first place North Fork Ospreys and came out on top, 6-4. The away-team Whalers had to dig deep in their bullpen to beat the league leaders, using six different pitchers. Relief pitcher Kyle Prohovich was given the win. Slugger Kevin Grove secured his place as the cream of the Whalers batting crop by hitting his sixth home run of the season in the win.
Tuesday, July 27 the Whalers went to Riverhead to face the Tomcats, a team that has beaten the Whalers in their previous two matchups. After remaining silent in the first three innings, the Sag Harbor team exploded with an incredible offensive showing. The Whalers run in 12 runs, three of them home runs from Stanley Fich, Ryan Kresky and Grove. Fich’s home run was a grand slam, contributing to his six RBIs during the game. Grove’s home run was his seventh, tying Aviator Alex Williams for the entire Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League season record. The final score of the game was 12-5.
If the Whalers do make it into the playoffs they will face the Ospreys, who already clinched the first seed in the post season, for a single elimination game on Monday, August 1. If they make it past the first round there will be a three game series between the two top teams to decide the champions.
Being a Whalers fan has been tough, but it’s clear to just about everybody that the Whalers are due.