Men’s Softball: Hubbard shuffles players and stays alive, barely

As Hubbard Equipment hit the halfway point of the season, it was 5-6 and battling for the fourth playoff spot in the Greenport Men’s Softball League. It had two players who were in the top four of the league in all three major batting categories: home runs (Craig Jobes and Scott Anderson), batting average (Ned Baker and Anderson), and runs batted in (Jobes and Anderson). Since a tough 26-23 loss to Founders Tavern on July 5, Hubbard’s season has dramatically changed.

A week later, on July 12, Hubbard was forced to forfeit its scheduled game against first-place Billy’s by the Bay. With a roster of 13 players, six were unable to make the game. Tim Staron, the team’s regular pitcher, and Chris Flanigan, the team’s backup pitcher, Mike O’Brien, and Aaron McGinness were all forced to work late shifts while Scott Anderson and Scott Warde were both out of town. While league rules allow teams to begin a game with eight players, by the fourth inning that team must be playing with at least nine, neither of which Hubbard could do because of the conflicting schedules.

However, Hubbard’s night was not yet over.

The contest against Billy’s by the Bay was set for a 6 p.m. start as a result of rescheduling previously rained out games. Hubbard also had a game scheduled against second-place Southold Fish Market at 7 p.m. Manager Ian Ryan’s hands were tied. The league allows teams to forfeit one game without penalty, but after a second forfeit, that team is kicked out of the league for the remainder of the season. However, new players cannot be added to a roster unless it has 11 players on it. Hubbard had 13. Roster moves had to be made.

“It was tough in two ways because at the beginning of the season I thought we had one of the top three teams in the league, and you get close with those guys that you’re playing with,” Ryan said. “It’s tough to drop guys that you’re friends with on top of the fact that we had to find someone to play in just a couple of hours.”

But Ryan made the difficult moves. He dropped both of his pitchers, Staron and Flanigan, to get down to the mandatory 11-player roster in order to pick up Zach Jobes, Craig’s brother, to avoid forfeiting the second game of the doubleheader. While Hubbard avoided the forfeit, it took a tough loss, 16-1 to Southold Fish Market. “I felt bad because I had to work and couldn’t make the games,” said Flanigan later, hinting that the rainout just happened to be rescheduled on a bad night for he and his teammates.

But it didn’t end there. After a tough 9-8 loss to Claudio’s, Hubbard was set to square off against Southold Fish Market yet again on Friday, but numbers were yet again an issue. Ryan only had eight players to go with, and yet again was destined to forfeit. This time, he dropped Zach Jobes and Aaron McGinness in order to pick up Gary Herman, who has since become Hubbard’s pitcher, and Tobin Haas. The game was another Southold Fish Market Victory, this time by a score of 23-7.

“It’s tough getting comfortable out there,” Craig Jobes said on Monday night after another blowout loss, this time to Founders Tavern. “Different guys are in different positions every night. We’re showing up with eight or nine guys every night and can never really field a whole team.”

Hubbard Equipment now sits at 6-11, a distant fifth place, four and a half games out of playoff contention. While the struggle to field a team continues from night to night, Hubbard has found a way to continue to fight and survive, which is an achievement in itself.