By Mike Pintauro
The Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League began its season a little over a week ago, and with that the local Sag Harbor Whalers hope to improve over last year’s showing that saw them reach the playoffs but fail to come out on top. So far, however, the Whalers have struggled this season, both to score runs and hold off their opponents, as they dropped the first five games of their season.
The 1-7 Whalers are currently last in the league.
“They began last season the same way”, said General Manager Tom Gleeson.
The season ended, he added, with only three games separating the record of the top and bottom teams. There are still many games to play, not only in June, but also for the entire month of July.
So far this season the North Fork Ospreys are in first place with a solid 5-2 record, with the Center Moriches Battlecats — newcomers to the league — nipping at their heels only half a game behind. The Riverhead Tomcats are in third, followed by the Southampton Breakers, the Shelter Island Bucks — also new this season — and the Westhampton Aviators, and finally the Whalers.
Despite their record, the Whalers looked very strong in their recent outing against the North Fork Ospreys, who fought off late inning runs to win 8-4 over the Whalers on Tuesday.
Pitching appeared to be the biggest problem for the Whalers. Starting Pitcher Jacob Bodner, a sophomore at Xavier College, gave up five runs on nine hits in three innings pitched. One run was the result of an error in the field, and did not count against Bodner’s Earned Run Average.
Ospreys’ pitcher Rich Vrana, a sophomore from Marist College, was dominant in the first six innings, recording seven strikeouts and one earned run on six hits.
Sag Harbor had a busy day in the field due to the persistence of Osprey hitters, but they played well, tracking down the ball to minimize damage. A spectacular play came in the top of the sixth inning, when Whalers center fielder Keaton Flint made a diving catch over the wall to snag a homerun away from the swinging bat of Ospreys hitter Kyle Adie.
Down 6-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Whalers scored three runs to bring the game within two. A chopper to shortstop by Stuart Levy, sophomore at Arkansas State, scored Jake Rogers, and through a series of walks and playing errors by the Ospreys, the Whalers were able to make a slight comeback in the ball game.
The Ospreys however, were not finished, and in their next at-bats Darrin Standish and Robert Paller each slapped an RBI double to put their team up 8-4 over Sag Harbor.
From behind the plate, the Whalers were consistent with hits, having 11 on the day, but simply could not string them together to produce a sufficient amount of runs. Keaton Flint, who had made the diving catch to save a run for the Whalers, was 1-for-3 on the day with a stolen base. Stuart Levy and Dennis Mitchell each had an RBI single and were 2-for-5.
The Whalers’ only victory thus far in the season took place at Mashashimuet Park on June 9 against the Westhampton Aviators, with a score of 2-1. The win did not come easy, but instead was the result of masterful pitching and speedy base running. Pitcher Kyle McGowin, sophomore at Savannah State University and Pierson High School graduate, threw a phenomenal 10 innings, allowing only one run on two hits, striking out nine. All that effort would be for nought, if not for a walk off single by outfielder Austin Davis. With bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the tenth, Davis roped a one-hopper to shortstop, beating out the throw, allowing Stuart Levy to score from third.
Sag Harbor’s next home game is Saturday, June 16, against Center Moriches, and Sunday, June 17, against Shelter Island. Both games will be played at Mashashimuet Park, and promise to be good match-ups for the Whalers, in their attempt to better their record within the division.