HCBL SEMIFINALS, GAME 2 | BREAKERS 6, OSPREYS 4
The end is sudden.
A pitcher winds up, fires, the ball pops in the catcher’s mitt, and that’s it. A season is over. An intense run of 42 games in 59 days has ended for the North Fork Ospreys.
And with it came silence from the Ospreys’ dugout and a largely silent reaction from their fans. While the Southampton Breakers rejoiced and exchanged high-fives, the glum-looking Ospreys began the process of coming to terms with the notion that their summer is over.
“That’s the way baseball is,” Ospreys manager Bill Ianniciello said, “it stops and all the air comes out.”
The Breakers saw to that Tuesday night by taking the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League semifinal series in two games and unseating the 2013 champions. Southampton’s Canadian slugger, Mitchell McGeein, continued his impressive form, homering and driving in three runs in a 6-4 defeat of the Ospreys at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic.
“When you’re ahead by more than one run at the end of the game it’s always a good thing,” said Breakers manager Rob Cafiero.
With the victory, the Breakers move on to the championship series against the Shelter Island Bucks, who also swept their semifinal series against the Sag Harbor Whalers. The championship series will start on Friday.
It would be understandable if the Ospreys don’t ever want to see McGeein again. He made their life miserable in this series, which began with a 7-1 Breakers win on Monday. Over the two games, McGeein knocked in eight runs, homered twice, hit 6 for 9 and scored three runs. He looked zoned in.
“Basically, when I go up there,” he said, “I’m looking for one pitch early in the count, and if I don’t get that pitch, I’m just not swinging, and I’m waiting until I get that pitch.”
Last season the Ospreys were the hot team in the playoffs. This year it appears as if the Breakers have assumed that role, winning their eighth straight game and 10 of their last 12. In contrast, the Ospreys finished up by dropping their final five games. The teams crossed paths while heading in opposite directions.
Now the Breakers are chasing what would be their second league championship in three years.
“Winning this thing is what we came here to do, and we plan on winning in the next three days,” said McGeein.
The Breakers have had the Ospreys’ number this summer, taking six of the eight games between the teams.
Southampton snapped a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning when Rob Moore launched a two-run homer and Zander Retamar doubled in a run.
McGeein gave the Breakers an insurance run, banging a single up the middle for his third run batted in of the night and a 6-2 cushion in the seventh.
“They outexecuted us at the plate is basically what it came down to,” said Ianniciello.
The Ospreys still had some fight left in them, though. They put up two runs in the eighth on a single by Kyle Adie and Penn Murfee’s bad-hop double that ricocheted off third baseman Kyle Smith and into shallow left field.
Unfortunately for the Ospreys, though, they were unable to capitalize further, stranding runners at second and third. For the game, they left 10 runners on base, hitting 3 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
The Ospreys didn’t get a hit off Jake Spezial until the fourth when back-to-back singles by Casey Baker and Luke Stampfl set up a two-run inning. Chris Gaffney drew a walk with the bases loaded and Christian Fiorito brought in the second run on a fielder’s choice.
But, again, the Ospreys didn’t take as much advantage as they would have liked, leaving the bases loaded.
McGeein batted in Southampton’s first two runs (no surprise there). He belted an RBI double in the first and jumped on the first pitch he saw in the third for a no-doubt home run.
“Losing is never fun but it happens sometimes,” said Baker. He added: “There was a lot of pressure on us to win this game. Unfortunately, they were the better team.”
Asked about the season, Ianniciello said, “I’m disappointed because we’re here to try to win a championship.”
The disappointment of losing aside, Baker said it was “a great season, it really was. We have a great group of guys here. I had a blast out here. Making all these new friends from just about everywhere around the country, it’s definitely something I won’t forget.”