By Benito Vila
The Kaiser Division of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League–comprised of teams in Sag Harbor, Southampton, Westhampton, Mattituck (North Fork), Riverhead and Old Westbury (Long Island)–overwhelmed their Wolff Division counterparts 11-0 at St.John’s University on Monday. That win gives the Kaiser playoff winner home-field advantage in the best-of-three championship series to be played the first week of August.
The Wolff teams, playing along the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border, were able to knock just four hits off of seven Kaiser division pitchers in the nine-inning game. Meanwhile, the Kaiser bats were hot, scorching 15 hits. Sag Harbor Whalers’ Ed Squeri (Dowling, two hits, two runs) and Brandon Boykin (Rutgers, two hits, three RBIs) led the way, Boykin blasting the game’s only home run.
The Whalers, at 10-15, have run aground of late, a 1-6 week sending them from among the league leaders towards the lower realm of the standings. As of yesterday afternoon, Westhampton, at 17-10, leads the league with Southampton (15-10) and Riverhead (16-11) a game behind and North Fork (15-11) just a half-game back of those two.
Today the Whalers take on the Ospreys in Mattituck and tomorrow they meet the Mustangs at New York Tech; both games start at 5 p.m. This Sunday, the boys are back in Mashashimuet Park for a doubleheader against the Southampton Breakers. First game is at 2 p.m. and the second at 5 p.m.
Scouts Come Out
John Venturella, coach of the Breakers, was excited by the Kaiser Division win, noting on Tuesday, “That’ll bring more scouts out this way and get more of our players noticed. The way we won so convincingly says a lot about our pre-season scouting and the people that have put this program together out here.”
Philadelphia Philly scout Dan Gallagher has been watching this summer’s games from the outset. His grandson, Chris Walker (Fordham), plays catcher for the Westhampton Aviators, and he has been one of the league’s top collegiate recruiters.
Sitting behind home plate in Mashashimuet Park on Sunday, Gallagher, who coached at Fordham University for 22 years, said, “This league out here has the potential to be one of the top four collegiate leagues in the country. It has great facilities and has attracted a big following in just two years.”
In talking about the success of similar leagues in Cape Cod, Alaska, Virginia, Minnesota and California, Gallagher suggested, “It’s good for these boys to get away and meet people and learn how to adjust to the things that come their way. At school, they can get too comfortable and when they stay home, they don’t take the game as seriously.”
Look for “Follows”
In explaining what scouts are looking for, Gallagher explained, “What we have here are mostly freshmen and sophomores; they’re too young for the [major league] clubs until their junior year so what scouts look to do is put in ‘follows’ to other local scouts so that the clubs can keep up with how they’re doing.” That system of “follows” leads candidates to the pro ranks via drafts and tryout camps.
Gallagher and his baseball brethren will be out on Monday afternoon for a “scout day” at Southampton High School, select players from the Kaiser Division teams doing what they can to show they have what it takes to earn a “follow”.
Whaler coach Jason Lefkowitz attributes the Whalers’ losses of late to breakdowns in the field, the other teams “getting more chances than they deserve. You can’t do that at any level. It puts pressure that doesn’t need to be there on the pitchers and the defense behind them. Players start to try and do too much and things just have a way of falling apart.”
Looking for a way out of the losing habits, Lefkowitz added, “A few one-two-three innings and a few base hits and it’s easy to get past this. We still have a lot of baseball to play in the next three weeks and getting into one of the top four spots [for the playoffs] is still within our reach. And everyone on our club is focused on that.”