It has been a good summer for Richie Palacios, and it got better on Sunday.
Palacios went 4-for-7 with two doubles and drove in three runs for the North Fork Ospreys as they swept a doubleheader from the Riverhead Tomcats, 8-1 and 12-1, at Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton. Those hits placed Palacios third on the league’s all-time, single-season hits list with 58. He finished the day with a .347 batting average, third-highest in the league, to go with seven home runs and 22 RBIs.
“He’s a complete player,” Ospreys manager Bill Ianniciello said. “He’s an all-tools guy. He runs the bases. He flashes the glove in the field. He swings the bat.”
Meanwhile, teammate Max Smith assumed the league lead in RBIs with 40 with his sacrifice fly in the sixth inning of the nightcap. Smith took a .307 batting average with seven homers into the Ospreys’ final regular-season game yesterday in Southampton.
Another Ospreys player was among the league leaders in the three major statistical categories. Dan Schock was second in the league with 12 homers.
The deal with doubleheaders
Doubleheaders, for the most part, are a thing of the past in Major League Baseball, but not in the HCBL.
Prior to Sunday’s, the managers for the North Fork Ospreys and the Tomcats expressed their dislike for twinbills.
“I don’t like doubleheaders, period,” said Bill Ianniciello.
For one thing, he frowns on playing seven-inning games, which are employed in college doubleheaders, and because so many doubleheaders are split, he doesn’t believe they benefit the better team.
Tomcats manager Alex Nikolic said: “I generally dislike them, but I’m looking at it from this perspective: If this wind keeps up and the sun is behind the clouds, it’s not going to be that hot and there’s four less innings of pitchers to worry about.”
Ianniciello looks at doubleheaders differently than he did when he was a player. “As a player I loved doubleheaders because I loved getting eight or 10 at-bats and trying to get yourself six hits,” he said.
Ianniciello’s opinion of doubleheaders as a manager may have taken an about-face, though, as the Ospreys took both games Sunday. Wearing a sheepish grin after the second game, he said, “I love doubleheaders.”
A lot to play for
Just because the Ospreys had already clinched a playoff spot doesn’t mean they don’t have anything to play for in the final week of the regular season. For one thing, the Ospreys want to secure the most favorable seeding they can (and possibly a home-field advantage) for the playoffs, which start Friday with best-of-three semifinal series. Also, the Ospreys want to go into the postseason with momentum.
Bill Ianniciello acknowledged the playoffs have a different feel than the regular season as the intensity ratchets up.
“I think the intensity is different,” he said. “I think the intensity will be elevated a little bit. If you’re not excited about playoff baseball, you shouldn’t be here.”
Photo caption: Riverhead third baseman Joe Flynn tags out North Fork’s Dan Schock, who tries to steal third in the seventh inning. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)