Westhampton Aviators head coach Jeff Quiros credited resiliency and chemistry as factors in his team’s ability to win three of four games this week, which catapulted the Aviators to a 7-4 overall record. The Aviators split a two-game set against the North Fork Ospreys, winning 5-2 on Tuesday, June 14 at Hite Field before falling, 14-3, under the lights at Cochran Park the following day. They defeated the Southampton Breakers, 10-0, on Thursday and got past the Sag Harbor Whalers, 2-1, on Saturday. As of Monday morning, the Aviators sat half a game behind North Fork for first place in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League’s Hampton Division.
The Aviators have scored runs in bunches this season, with four runs coming across the plate in the first two innings of Tuesday’s home game against North Fork. Aviators infielder Aaron Cohn (freshman, Duke University) went 2 for 4 at the plate and catcher Ray Ortega (sophomore, Manhattan College) drew three walks. Taylor Black (freshman, Texas State University) earned the win on the mound, throwing six innings and striking out four. He fanned Ospreys cleanup hitter Ryan Williams (sophomore, William and Mary) twice. The victory put the Aviators in a tie with North Fork for first place in the division at the time. The following day however, they fell in an 11-run debacle where they had only seven hits and four 1-2-3 innings at the plate. Aviators starter Dan Sorine (sophomore, Fordham University) gave up a grand slam in first inning to Ospreys infielder Matt Carroll (freshman, San Jose State University), and Steven Roche (sophomore, High Point University) came in for the second inning and surrendered three more runs in the team’s worst loss this season. A two-run home run by Ortega in the ninth off Ospreys reliever Mike Czenszak (sophomore, Florida Southern College) was the lone bright spot for Westhampton.
Quiros said the team continued to fight during the game and he was proud of the team’s short memory following the blowout loss.
“It was tough to rebound from that, but our guys continued to play hard,” he said. “Effort was not an issue that day. I think we’re going to be on the good side of those types of games more often than not.”
The Aviators’ bats came back to life in Thursday’s shutout of Southampton. Leadoff hitter Kevin Heller (junior, Amherst University) tripled and Kyle Lombardo (freshman, Suffolk County Community College) followed with an RBI single in the fifth inning for the first run of the game. The game was highlighted by a seven-run seventh inning in which 12 batters came to the plate. Sorine had a three-run home run with one out in the inning that extended the lead to 8-0. Ryan Doran (sophomore, Orange Coast Junior College) pitched eight innings and struck out six to earn the win. Jason Dierkes (junior, St. Joseph’s College) preserved the shutout in the ninth by forcing an infield pop up and ground out for the final two outs with Southampton runners on first and second.
Quiros credited his top three hitters—Heller, Kyle Lombardo and Chris Brooks (freshman, Middle Georgia College)—for setting the table for most of the offensive momentum this season.
“We know that hitting is contagious and can produce a lot of crooked numbers,” he said. “In these types of games, a lot of the times the team that scores first wins.”
As of Monday morning, Heller was tied for first in runs with 10 and Kyle Lombardo was second in the Hampton Division with a .415 batting average.
Friday’s game at the Riverhead Tomcats was postponed due to inclement weather and was scheduled to be made up Monday, June 20, at 5 p.m.
The Aviators were on the winning end of a pitcher’s duel in a win over the Whalers where they had only six hits. Joe Lombardo (junior, Duquesne) earned his first win of the season, pitching six innings and allowing only one run on an RBI single from Whalers outfielder Josy Espinal (freshman, SUNY Albany). The defense had 10 ground ball put-outs and Nick Camastro (sophomore, Manhattan College) stole home in the fifth inning for the deciding run.
Closer Brandon Kuter (sophomore, George Mason University) got the four-out save, working around a double surrendered by Dierkes late in the eighth inning.
Quiros said he felt confident giving the ball to Kuter because of his strong work ethic.
“To hand him the ball at the end of the game makes my job easy,” he said. “If we have a lead after eight innings, we feel pretty safe.”
The Aviators will host the Breakers on Saturday and will travel to Sag Harbor to play the Whalers on Sunday. Both games will start at 5 p.m.