By Mike Pintauro
Faced with the threat of inclement weather, the Whalers hosted a double header at Mashashimuet Park on Wednesday. Starting early on our nation’s birthday, the Whalers played two games against the Shelter Island Bucks, winning their first game 2-1, but dropping their second 4-3.
The Whalers had only four hits during the first game, which came sporadically from inning to inning. That’s more than can be said about the Bucks, however, who were held scoreless until the seventh inning by a masterful pitching performance by Whalers newcomer Brandon McClane. McClane was perfect through five innings, hurling seven strikeouts and only one walk in six innings pitched.
The only two hits from the Bucks came in the top of the seventh inning. McClane was pulled from the game and did not pitch the seventh inning, and was instead replaced by Collin Dinges. Dinges finished off the Bucks, but allowed one run on two hits in a game that looked certain to be shutout.
Down one run with only one inning left in the truncated ball game, it seemed the Whalers’ stellar pitching performance was all for nothing; but after a walk from Jake Kingsley and a well-placed sacrifice bunt by Keaton Flint, they had the tying run on second with two outs. John Hennessy was up at bat, and like most other Whalers during the game, he did little from behind the plate. Nevertheless, it was his two-run homerun over the right field fence that snagged the victory for the Whalers, in spectacular walk-off fashion.
Wednesday’s second game was a different story from the beginning. After loading the bases with the first three batters, Whalers pitcher Jason Freeman gave up an RBI double to Geo Saba, scoring two runs. Saba would score himself later in the inning, bringing the first inning run total by the Bucks to four. Down four runs from the get-go, the Whalers knew they had to play catch up, but despite dishing out nine hits in the game, they were only able to score three runs.
Whalers infielder John Hennessey, fresh off a two-run homerun, was 2-for-3 on the day, with one run coming in the bottom of the third. Down two in the last inning, infielder Charlie Curl led off with a strong solo homerun, but it was too little too late. Grant Shambley reached base with a single to left field, but was the first out of a game-ending double play, hit by Dennis Mitchell.
This was the second double header of the week for the Whalers. On Saturday, June 30, the Whalers hosted the Riverhead Tomcats in a back-to-back showdown, but lost both games of the day 3-2 and 4-0. Jim Duff was on the mound for the first game, throwing a solid six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits, striking out four. The Whalers were held to six hits in the game, scoring their only two runs in a desperate seventh inning struggle to find the win.
In their second game against the Tomcats, the Whalers were held scoreless, slapping only five hits in the game. Whalers pitcher Will Marcal pitched a strong outing, striking out six, with only two earned runs. However, he allowed nine hits in his four inning outing, and after being down early in the game, the Whalers were unable to get any offense moving.
On Sunday, the Whalers faced the fifth place Southampton Breakers, and came away with a 7-6 win.
With a tough loss against the North Fork Ospreys last Thursday, the Whalers have continued to struggle this season, and are now six games back from the first place Riverhead Tomcats. Regardless, Whalers pitching and hitting are holding up well, bringing games close and competitive.
Scores came out to enjoy the double header, but there was more on the agenda than just baseball. Whalers General Manager Tom Gleeson invited local residents Joanne Lyles and Jim Theinert as ceremonial guests, where they simultaneously threw the first pitch in honor of their sons, Jordan Haerter and Joseph Theinert, respectively, both who died in the service of their country. The crowd welcomed the two, and offered their cheers to the memory of the two fallen servicemen.