MUSTANGS 2, OSPREYS 1
If the North Fork Ospreys learned anything from last season, it was that it’s not how a team starts a season that counts so much as how it finishes one.
Last season the Ospreys lost eight of their first 10 games, yet still recovered, winning 15 of their last 18 games to claim the first Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League championship. It was the Ospreys’ second league title in four years (they were the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League champions in 2010).
So, the Ospreys aren’t likely to panic after beginning their title defense this season by dropping their first three games. First there was the 8-0 season-opening loss to the Shelter Island Bucks on Sunday, followed by a wild 14-9 defeat to the Southampton Breakers on Monday night. In the latest game, the expansion Montauk Mustangs held off the Ospreys, 2-1, on Tuesday night at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic.
Before the game, both managers, Jason Szafarski of the Mustangs and Bill Ianniciello of the Ospreys, had expressed concern about being thin in the pitching department, with some pitchers still to report to their teams. That made it all the more ironic that the teams then went on to engage in a pitching duel.
Montauk (2-1) did all of its damage in the first inning, when it rapped four hits, the last being a bases-loaded double that Ryan Crowley smacked for an early 2-0 lead.
The Ospreys made life a little uncomfortable for the Mustangs by scoring in the ninth. Penn Murfee delivered a leadoff single and stole second base before racing home when Nick Day, who had struck out in his three previous at-bats, ripped a double off the left-field fence. After a walk put two runners on base, reliever Chris Gallic retired the final two batters for the save.
The player of the game, though, had to be Montauk’s starting pitcher, Devin Bear (1-0). The 6-foot-3 left-hander from Northwestern State University (La.) pitched seven shutout innings during which he fired 11 strikeouts, giving up three hits and three walks. Bear threw 91 pitches, all of them fastballs, he said.
The Ospreys’ starter, Stephen Woods, didn’t have a bad outing himself. Following the rocky first inning, Woods settled down. He gave up five hits in four innings.
The pitcher who relieved Woods, Notre Dame product Connor Hale, was impressive, striking out six during his three hitless innings of work before making way for Matt D’Ariano, who finished up the final two innings without surrendering a hit.
After the first inning, the only hit the Ospreys allowed was a hard-hit ball by Joey Bartosic that handcuffed shortstop Luke Stampfl on the short hop and was ruled a hit in the second.
The Ospreys could feel good about the defense they played. Among the highlights were left fielder Austin Miller throwing a runner out at home plate, catcher Chris Gaffney picking a runner off third base, and a well-turned 4-6-3 double play.