Tag Archive | "Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League"

Whalers Take First Two, Return This Sunday

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By Benito Vila

The Boys of Summer is legendary in the annals of sport, writer Roger Kahn capturing the cool and fire of his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers. Last Sunday Sag Harbor was introduced to its boys of summer, a group of college players coming together as “the Whalers” in Mashashimuet Park to open a 40-game season in Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League action.
The setting was familiar for one Whaler, former Pierson standout and current Farmingdale State scholar-athlete Mike Labrozzi back on his “home” field. Labrozzi and his new teammates didn’t disappoint the 80 or so that turned out, taking both ends of a doubleheader, 2-1 and 10-2, from the highly regarded Riverhead Tomcats.
Labrozzi lit up the faces of many friends, starting at first base and hitting sixth in the first game. In his first at-bat, in the bottom of the second, Labrozzi stepped in with a runner on and lifted the first over-the-fence homer seen in Mashashimuet since the wood bat league started play here last year.
The 360-foot shot gave Whaler starter, East Hampton alumnus and current University of Rhode Island pitcher, Gardner Leaver a 2-0 lead. And those runs were all Leaver needed, the righty keeping the Tomcats quiet in allowing just one hit, walking one and striking out three in five innings of work.
Brian Russell, a righty from Davidson, relieved Leaver and held the lead for the next three and two-thirds, scattering four hits. But it was Jake Donze, a lefty from Murray State University (KY), who closed out the game, getting the last out on a force at second with the bases loaded, a run in and the Tomcats scratching to get the lead.

The Runs Pile Up
The Tomcats were unable to break through in the first inning of the second game, New York Tech lefty Steve Faulkner retiring the side easily. The Whalers, meanwhile, snapped their scoreless string, Rutgers sophomore Brandon Boykin singling in a run in the bottom of the first.
Labrozzi stepped in later in the frame with two away, runners at first and third and the home crowd eager for more. A delayed double steal and a low throw home, netted the Whalers another run before Labrozzi added to the Tomcats’ misery by roping a double to right center to make the score 3-0.
Faulkner yielded a run in the second, the Tomcats making the most of a pair of singles and a wild pitch. A Labrozzi infield single in the hole at short brought home another Whaler in the fourth, keeping the margin at three and giving the hometown player four RBIs on the day.
In all, Labrozzi went five-for-seven in his team’s debut, another single in the sixth contributing to a five-run rally that put the Whalers up 9-1. A Sag Harbor run in the eighth and a Riverhead run in the ninth closed the scoring at 10-2 Whalers, Anna Maria College (MA) lefty James McNamara and Farmingdale State righty Steve King keeping the Tomcats from sneaking back into the game.

What’s to Come
Whaler skipper Jason Lefkowitz, an assistant baseball coach at Brown University, was satisfied with his team’s play, saying “I thought our team played well-played games considering we have only been on a field as a team twice leading up to the games. It was a great team effort with many of the guys giving up their at bats to move runners over and get runners in. Mike Labrozzi came up clutch for us in both games, having a great at bat in the first game and hitting it out with two strikes.”
Seeing what needs work, Coach Lefkowitz pointed out, “I feel we need to work on our defense a little more as we made more errors than I would have liked, causing our pitchers to make more pitches. Also, we will be working on our hitting a little bit, but I don’t have any concerns for that part. If we were able to put up 10 runs on limited hits, we should be able to do well once we start playing everyday.”
Citing individual contributions, Coach Lefkowitz added, “I thought all our pitchers did a great job throwing strikes, letting our defense make the plays. Gardner Leaver did a great job throwing more innings than we expected him to throw with the limited pitch count we had our pitchers on. Brian Russell also threw the ball very well and Jake Donze got us a big out to get the save.”
“In game two, I was very happy with how James McNamara pitched; he was a strike-throwing machine, getting us deep in the game. Before the doubleheader, we were told we were playing two nine-inning games where I understood from the ACBL we were going to play two seven-inning games, so we were a little thin on pitching as a few of our pitchers had just got to Sag Harbor Saturday.”
The nine-inning format will be used in games from hereon in, the Whalers at North Fork (Mattituck) today at 5 p.m. and at Southampton (on the high school field) Thursday at 5 p.m. On Saturday, the Whalers will play the Breakers on the new baseball field at Stony Brook University’s Southampton campus at 5 p.m.
The boys are back in the park again this Sunday against Westhampton, games at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., with Sunday doubleheaders continuing each weekend this month and next.

Whaler Get-Away
The Sag Harbor Whaler Host Committee, which has housed the team’s players and made arrangements for local work while the boys are not playing ball, has scheduled a team fundraiser for June 19. The committee has negotiated the use of one of the South Ferry’s fleet for a sunset getaway cruise in and outside the harbor.
The ferry will launch from Long Wharf next Saturday, Whaler players meeting those that turn out at 5:45 p.m. Shortly after 6 p.m. beverages and appetizers will be made available. Tickets for the cruise can be purchased for $40 at B. Smith or from Rich Kudlak at Prudential Real Estate. The ferry is due to come in just before 8 p.

Loss Ends Magic Season

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The magic had to end sometime.
As the announcer for the Kutztown Rockies proclaimed the team back to back to back champions of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, the Hampton Whalers, who lost the game, 8-2, strolled into the outfield of Briedegam Field for a post-game huddle.
When the huddle broke, not a single Whaler was hanging his head and neither was their coach, manager Julio Vega.
“I told to them to keep their heads up,” said the manager. “It was no fluke that we were there.”
The Whalers finished the summer season on a tear that landed in the league championship. They won the Kaiser Divison in a two game sweep over the New York Metro Cadets in dramatic fashion, and though they didn’t emerge victorious last Saturday night, they had an incredible season.
The game got off to a good start for Whalers. The jumped out in the top of the first inning with three straight hits, including and RBI-double by catcher Chris Walker. Third baseman Mark Houck came through with a beautiful sacrifice bunt to score Alan Parks and put the team ahead, 2-0. That however would be the last run of the night for the Whalers.
Right-hander Andrew Guarassi started on the mound for the Whalers and pitched five innings and gave up four runs on ten hits. The Whalers’ defense seemed a little tense and committed four early errors that ultimately gave the home team the lead. Vega said the score should have still been 2-0 in their favor going into the sixth.
“We gave up four runs that shouldn’t even have been runs,” he said. “ It was the first game all year where our defense let us down. It could have been nerves or just bad decisions on ground balls, and that costs you.”
The Rockies’ defense on the other hand was solid. Every time a Whaler managed to put a ball in play, the Rockies’ infield gobbled it up and made the throws.
Pat Holloway came in in the sixth inning for the Whalers and held the Rockies at bay. But in the eighth inning Matt Smith came in and gave up four more runs, giving the Rockies an 8-2 advantage going into the last inning and ultimately giving them their third straight championship.
Vega didn’t try and sugar-coat the loss.
“We didn’t play very well, it was one of those games where you have to come out and play really good to win,” he said. “You can’t come out and make mistakes. We got the lead and then just kind of sat back and waited for bad things to happen, and they did.”
A victory would have been sweet, but Vega said just the opportunity was a gift. For a first year team to make it all the way to the championship game, Vega said was definitely something to smile about. The most important thing however in his eyes, was that the players never gave up, not once, during the entire season, even after starting out 0-6.
“I was proud of these guys,” said Vega. “They battled back from nowhere. It was a great experience for them great experience for me. It’s really all about the players and making them better.”
As for next year, Vega said he would love to come back and coach, but he knows it’s not up to him. Hampton Whalers president Rusty Leaver has plan for three other teams and Vega hopes to be involved with one of them. If not, he said this summer in Sag Harbor would certainly be something he’d always remember.
“Everywhere you play you want to play to win and you want to play to win a championship,” he said. “But having it out here, in the community of Sag Harbor, it was amazing.”