Few players have traveled as far to play in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League as Max Smith.
A native of Tucson, Ariz., Smith recently completed his freshman season at UNLV, where he played as a backup outfielder. As a senior in high school in 2015 he led his team to a state championship and was the 2015 Southern Arizona Player of the Year.
Now he’s fine-tuning his skills as a member of the North Fork Ospreys. In the first game of a doubleheader Saturday against the Shelter Island Bucks, Smith hit a home run in the bottom of the seventh inning off sidearm relief pitcher, Ben Schragger. The run wasn’t enough, though, to erase the deficit as Shelter Island hung on to win, 6-3. The Ospreys answered in the second game of the doubleheader with a 9-3 victory at Cochran Park in Peconic.
Smith said he ended up on the North Fork at the suggestion of his college coach.
“I love it,” the left-handed Smith said in between games. “It’s a completely different atmosphere for me and I’ve been loving it so far.”
Smith’s home run, his first of the season, was a towering shot over the right field wall.
Smith, who has a strong arm in the outfield, leads the Ospreys with 17 RBIs and his .273 batting average is fourth on the team.
Shortstop Richard Palacios, a 6-foot Brooklyn native who plays for Towson University, leads the team with a .337 average and 5 home runs. He went 2-for-4 in Game 1 against Shelter Island and 1-for-2 with a pair of walks in Game 2.
Similar to Smith, Palacios said he found his way to the Hamptons league from his college coach.
“The experience is great and my teammates are awesome,” Palacios said.
For as much hitting talent as there is in the Hamptons league, most games come down to pitching. In Game 1 against the Bucks, James Taubl started for the Ospreys and allowed one run through four innings. The lefty from Sacred Heart University threw a plus curveball and good fastball. Shelter Island countered with Ian Burns, who earned the win by giving up 2 runs (1 earned) over four innings. Burns showed great command and change of speed.
The Ospreys are 13-10 and in second place heading into their next game today, Thursday, at home against Westhampton. The Bucks are in last place at 5-12-1.
Photo Caption: North Fork Ospreys outfielder Max Smith makes a catch earlier this season. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)