07/27/17 8:42pm
07/27/2017 8:42 PM

The Long Island Road Warriors looked right at home.

So much so, in fact, that they didn’t panic after falling behind a couple of runs. Instead, they used a five-run burst in the sixth inning to topple the North Fork Ospreys, 5-2, in Game 1 of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League semifinals on Thursday.

As their nickname suggests, the Road Warriors don’t have an official home field.

“All year long we’ve been on the road,” said Long Island coach Neal Heaton, a former major league pitcher.

The longest road trip of your career, right?

“No,” he replied, “I’ve had longer than that, believe me.”

Playing all these road games doesn’t seem to have hurt the Road Warriors, though. The first-year club finished the regular season in second place with a 24-16-1 record.

Not having a place to call home, Heaton said, is “actually easier, if you think about it. We don’t have to line the fields. We don’t have to get the fields ready. We don’t have to do anything. We come, play and go home.”

And, more often than not, they win.

For this series they are calling Stony Brook Southampton home, and it suited their purposes just fine in Game 1.

The Ospreys started off well enough, riding a 2-0 lead from Chris Adams’ fourth homer of the summer and Luke Stampfl’s RBI single in the third inning.

Ospreys starter Stephen Hansen turned in a commendable performance on an overcast afternoon that saw intermittent light sprinkles fall. Hansen showed himself to be something of an escape artist, too. Long Island threatened with two runners on base in three straight innings, only to come away empty-handed each time. Hansen picked up strikeouts for the third outs in the second and third innings and benefitted when Nico Doria lined into a 4-4-6 double play to end the fourth.

But the line between winning and losing can be a fine one. Games can turn on an at-bat or two.

Hansen ran into trouble in the sixth when the bottom of Long Island’s batting order came up big. A Marc Wangenstein double and walks by Michael Veit and Ben McNeill set the table for Doria, the No. 8 hitter who socked an RBI single. That prompted Ospreys coach Bill Ianniciello to take the ball from Hansen and bring in Tanner Propst. No. 9 hitter Ron Linsalato welcomed Propst by lashing a two-run single to leftfield.

Just like that, Long Island was ahead, 3-2.

“It’s a game of inches,” Hansen said. “When Tanner comes in, if that ground ball’s a foot to the left, it’s a double play, we’re out of the inning, but it just sneaks through and then this happens, this happens and then the game’s out of hand.”

But the Road Warriors weren’t done. A throwing error brought in two more runs.

“I think our pitchers threw a very good game,” Adams said. “They got ground balls, which should have been outs. I think we need to clean up the defense, and I think that’s really what killed us here today.”

Hansen allowed six hits and four runs. “He pitched well enough to win the game for us,” Ianniciello said. “He pitched a good game.”

Hansen, however, wasn’t happy with the five walks he issued. He had six strikeouts.

“Not too great,” he said. “I gave a lot of free passes to guys. I didn’t really have my off-speed pitches.”

Lefthanded reliever Tristan Amone picked up the win for Long Island. In the three-plus innings he pitched, he gave up four hits, a walk and had two strikeouts.

The Ospreys are 2-6 against Long Island and there’s a reason for that.

“I think they’re pretty good,” Adams said. “I think they definitely take advantage of the opportunities that they’re given. They’re not necessarily going to crush the ball, but they’re going to pitch well; they’re going to play good defense.”

For Game 2 of the best-of-three series, the Ospreys will return home to Peconic Friday night. Long Island will be on the road, but then again, that’s just where they feel at home.

[email protected]

Photo caption: Chris Adams is congratulated by North Fork coach Bill Ianniciello while rounding third base on his home run in the third inning. (Credit: Bob Liepa)

Featured Story
07/25/17 8:10pm
07/25/2017 8:10 PM

Before the start of Tuesday’s doubleheader, someone mentioned to North Fork Ospreys coach Bill Ianniciello that his team needed “just one more point” to clinch a playoff berth.

“Don’t say ‘just’,” said Ianniciello, who advised that the word “just” be removed. In other words, just because the Ospreys needed only one point didn’t mean it would be easy, and it wasn’t.
READ

Featured Story
07/23/17 1:27pm
07/23/2017 1:27 PM

Over the Memorial Day weekend, 15-year-old Dillon Steuer of Bohemia won the longest NASCAR Modified race on the 2017 Riverhead Raceway schedule, the Islip 300. Saturday night the soft-spoken teenager very well could have won the shortest race of the year. He was leading on Lap 27 when rains came, putting a halt to the scheduled 40-lap NASCAR Modified event. At the time of the rain, Steuer and 45-time career winner Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead were entangled in a torrid race for the lead with the youngster collecting his second career triumph.
READ

Featured Story
07/17/17 1:54pm
07/17/2017 1:54 PM

Chris Turbush of Wading River rewarded his hard-working team, which burnt the midnight oil during the week to repair a heavily damaged car, by making a last-lap pass of Kyle Soper of Manorville to claim a win in a 50-lap Late Model feature at Riverhead Raceway Saturday evening.

Rookie driver Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck scored his first career Modified Crate victory in a nonstop 30-lap main event.
READ

Featured Story
07/16/17 8:17pm
07/16/2017 8:17 PM

Planes were flying high over Aviator Field, one after another it seemed, on Sunday afternoon. But planes haven’t been the only things flying around the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League this season. Aviators and Ospreys have been flying as well.

The first-place Westhampton Aviators have been enjoying a tremendous season as they go about defending their league championship. The third-place North Fork Ospreys started the day having won eight of their previous 10 games.
READ