The Sag Harbor Whalers and Westhampton Aviators are neck and neck for first place in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.
As of Tuesday morning, the Aviators led the Whalers by a game and a half, thanks to a sweep of a doubleheader over Shelter Island by the Aviators on Monday. The Whalers, though, helped themselves out with an 8-4 victory over the Aviators back on July 9.
Westhampton (19-12) was hampered in its game against Sag Harbor (17-13) last week with fielding errors. The Aviators made four errors that led to five unearned runs throughout the game. The Whalers were able to take advantage of the miscues by belting out 14 hits.
“We had a pretty good day offensively,” Whalers manager Brendan Monaghan said. “They threw the ball around a bit but we certainly capitalized on some opportunities.”
Dan Rizzie (Xavier) had a 3-for-5 day at the plate with an RBI while J.J. Franco (Brown), Dan Shea (Monmouth), Justin Montemayor (Houston) and Grant Shambley (Wake Forest) all had two hits each. Darius Washington (Akron) was 4 for 4 for Westhampton with an RBI.
“It wasn’t one of our best games,” Westhampton manager Lou Bernardi said. “We showed some fight late in the game. We may have not played well, but we got out there the next day and beat a good Center Moriches team.
“That’s the good thing about being able to play every day,” he continued. “You have a bad game and lose, the schedule gives everyone a chance to play the next day and erase what you did the day before.”
The Southampton Breakers have been struggling of late, falling to sole possession of last place with a 12-19 record. But they did get a nice shot in the arm by T.J. Pecoraro (Vanderbilt), who was filling in for the injured Ryan McCormick (St. John’s).
In his HCBL debut on July 11, Pecoraro tossed a complete game five-hitter in a 6-1 victory over Center Moriches, which, at the time, was in first place. It was the first nine-inning complete game thrown by a starting pitcher. The other complete games this season came in seven-inning games of doubleheaders.
In the inaugural HCBL All-Star Game, the North All-Stars defeated the South All-Stars 4-1. Shelter Island catcher Joe Burns (St. John’s) hit a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the third inning to put the North ahead for good. The past five seasons, representatives from the East End took part in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game in Queens and then Brooklyn.
Burns was named the very first HCBL All-Star Game MVP, since he had a double, which was the eventual game-winning hit, two RBIs and a stolen base. At the end of the game, he was presented with a trophy and a custom-engraved wood bat by HCBL commissioner Fred Cambria.
The South took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third on a sacrifice fly by Westhampton’s Joey Havrilak (Akron). The South’s best chances of a comeback came late in the game. In the ninth inning, with runners in scoring position and one out, Southampton’s Ben Ruta (Wagner) lined out to Riverhead shortstop Mike Brosseau (Oakland), who caught Westhampton’s Cole Miller (Georgia Tech) too far off second base for an inning-ending double play.
The game was extended to 10 innings to allow all 10 pitchers to log a full inning of work and the South tried taking advantage of it. Southampton’s David Leiderman (Hofstra) singled and then Sag Harbor’s Dan Shea (Monmouth) walked. But Riverhead’s Matt Peacock (South Alabama) struck out the next two batters. Westhampton’s Mitch Montaldo (Penn) then stepped up to the plate and smashed a liner back up the box, but Peacock reached back and snared it with his bare hand, on the fly, for the final out.