It was a microcosm of what has made them successful all season long.
The North Fork Ospreys demonstrated, once again, this past week their formula for success in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League. Good pitching, timely hitting and tight defense enabled the Ospreys to win four out of five games and improve their first-place Hampton Division record to 18-5. The Ospreys have been ranked #21 by Perfect Game Cross Checker’s Summer Baseball Top 30. This is the highest national ranking so far of any ACBL team.
“Our pitching has been keeping us in every game,” Ospreys’ manager Shawn Epidendio said. “Our defense has been great and we’ve been getting the big hits when we need them. Things are going well.”
The Ospreys ran off three straight impressive wins earlier last week before dropping the opening game of Sunday’s July 4 doubleheader at Hite Field in Westhampton to the Aviators, 6-4. Westhampton built an early 4-1 lead off of James Stone (3-1), the Ospreys’ losing pitcher. Sparked by the hitting of Sebastian Grazziani (3 for 3) and Rocco Gondek (2 hits and 3 RBI), the Ospreys closed to within two runs in the top of the sixth, but their rally fell short. Mat Cox (2-0) earned the win for the Aviators (11-11).
“We didn’t play our best game,” Epidendio said. “We had a couple of opportunities we didn’t take advantage of.”
Grazziani is hitting .373, with four homers and 26 runs batted in.
“Sebastian always makes solid contact,” Epidendio said. “He doesn’t waste at-bats.”
In the second game, the Ospreys shut out Westhampton, 4-0, as A.J. Dusablon allowed only two hits across six innings to get the win. He struck out seven. The Ospreys broke open a 1-0 game with three runs in the top of the seventh inning. Robert Kelly’s fifth inning homer gave the Ospreys the lead. Then in the seventh, Michael Beers and Nick Lingvay both walked with the bases loaded to force in runs.
The Ospreys opened the week with a trio of impressive wins. On June 30, the Ospreys scored a run in the top of the ninth, when Lingvay singled in Brendan O’Brien, to pull out a 2-1 win at Mashashimuet Park against the Sag Harbor Whalers (7-13). Eric Williams and Gondek both had a pair of hits. Williams got the win in relief of Kevin Gottlieb, who didn’t allow an earned run over eight innings.
“Eric is really turning it on,” Epidendio said. “He’s getting good at-bats and making things happen.”
On July 2, the Ospreys pounded out 20 hits and rolled past the Torrington Titans, 13-1, in an exhibition game at Jean Cochran Park in Peconic. Billy Ferriter ignited the Ospreys’ explosion with four hits. He scored three runs. Ryan Brockett and Kurt Schlangen both had three hits. Grazziani homered and drove in four runs. Williams had two hits and three RBI. The Ospreys led 7-0 in the fourth and cruised to the lopsided win. Aaron Snyder allowed only one hit over six innings to get the win. He struck out seven.
The Ospreys beat the Southampton Breakers (6-13) 10-2 the next night in Peconic. The Ospreys, leading 4-2, broke the game open with a six-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning. Ferriter again was the catalyst, going 4 for 5, with four runs scored. Dan Muscatello and O’Brien each had three hits, while Schlangen and Grazziani both had two hits. One of Grazziani’s hits was a home run. Schlangen knocked in three runs. Derek Lamacchia scattered four hits across six innings to get the win. Brian Tardif went the final innings for the save. He struck out four.
Epidendio said, “As Ferriter goes, so goes our team. He has had such a positive impact.”
“We just need to continue to play hard,” Epidendio said. “We can’t be complacent. We need to build on the lead we have and have fun. We need to take care of the little things. If we do the right things, we feel we can win.”