By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller
The final games of the regular season will played this weekend in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, which as of Tuesday had five teams separated by just two-and-a-half games in the standings.
The Sag Harbor Whalers are one of the teams still in the mix for a regular season title, which they won last year before going on to lose in a playoff semifinal. The Whalers improved to 19-16 with a 9-1 win over Montauk at home on Sunday and as of Tuesday were tied with Riverhead for second place, just a half game behind the first-place North Fork Ospreys, who Sag Harbor hosted on Wednesday night after this edition’s deadline.
The Whalers’ final two regular-season games are at home against Shelter Island tomorrow, July 25, at 2 p.m. and at Montauk on Saturday at 5 p.m. The postseason will begin next week, with a champion being crowned on August 3.
It was Alex Person (Southern New Hampshire) who shined brightest on Sunday, tossing a complete-game four-hitter to shutdown the reeling Montauk Mustangs (14-23), who have been in last place for much of their first year in the league. Person was masterful on Sunday, especially late, as he retired the final 10 hitters to improve his league-best ERA to 1.34.
Person also received plenty of support from the Whalers offense, which compiled 14 hits in the game, including three each from Dan Rizzie (Xavier) and Nolan Meadows (Long Beach State). It was Meadows who opened the floodgates early with a solo home run in the fourth inning. He added a two-run double in the eighth that effectively put the game out of reach.
Outfielders Joe Gellenbeck (Xavier) and James Clements (Georgia State) had two hits apiece and all but two of the Whalers who saw action picked up hits in the game.
Sunday’s win was made more important following an extra-innings 9-8 loss to Riverhead on Friday, July 18. Riverhead was in total control for most of the game and led 8-2 after seven innings. The Whalers scored one run in the eighth and closed to within 8-5 in the ninth on a sacrifice fly by Scott Hagan (Mercy). With two outs, Zach Piazza (Wake Forest) and Gellenbeck hit back-to-back doubles to score three more runs to even the score.
The excitement was short-lived, however, as Riverhead’s Cole Fabio (Bryant) hit an RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning to plate the winning run.