Baseball can be a wild and crazy game sometimes. Game 2 of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League Hampton Division semifinal series between the Southampton Breakers and the North Fork Ospreys is a case in point. The game had its fair share of wildness and craziness, not to mention a good deal of sloppiness.
Fifteen walks. Six errors. Four wild pitches. Two passed balls.
They tell much of the tale of Sunday night’s 11-inning, three-hour-plus game. The final score on Jean W. Cochran Park’s new scoreboard read 8-7 in favor of Southampton. In the end, that’s all the visiting Breakers cared about. They stretched the series to a decisive third game that will be played on their field on Monday afternoon.
The winner of the series will advance to the division finals against the Westhampton Aviators, who swept their semifinal series versus the Sag Harbor Whalers.
The Breakers’ catcher, Brant Whiting, scored the game-winning run in fitting fashion, considering everything else that went on in Sunday night’s contest. The Breakers got a break in the 11t inning. After Whiting led off with a lined single, he advanced to second base on a wild pitch, moved to third base on a wild pitch, and then scored the go-ahead run on yet another wild pitch.
“It was win or go home,” Whiting said. “I’m not the fastest guy. I got a little lucky there, I guess.”
Lucky or not, Breakers Coach Rob Cafiero liked the way his team took advantage of opportunities.
“We live to fight another day,” he said. “We had a great comeback there in the ninth, and then Brant, our catcher, he did a great job reading that passed ball. For a catcher, he’s good. He’s not so much fast, but he’s a great base runner, and he read that passed ball very well, and he broke right on it. He stepped up for us right there and he won the game for us.”
The Ospreys are focused on winning a third straight division title and defending their league crown. They will need another road win to have the chance.
“We all came up here in the beginning of the summer saying we want to win a championship,” Ospreys pitcher Ryan Williams said. “That’s what you play for, that’s what you’re here for, and now that you’re here, you just want to finish it out. So, it’s definitely important for us.”
The Ospreys, who had won the opening game of the series by a 3-1 score on Saturday, were left with three outs to work with in the bottom of the 11th. Ryan Brockett started off by hitting a ground ball to shortstop Antonio Alvarez, whose throw to first baseman James McMahon was judged to have been in time for the out. Brockett and Michiel Van Kampen, the Ospreys co-coach who was serving as the first base coach, angrily disputed the call and both were ejected from the game.
After issuing a walk to Matt Carroll, reliever Tim Swatek retired the next two batters to wrap up the win.
The Ospreys had led by two runs going into the ninth, but let the game slip from their grasp.
“That’s the game. You can never tell what’s going to happen,” said Ospreys left fielder Andrew Furr, who went 3 for 6 and drove in three runs. “We have to bounce back and play hard tomorrow and give 100 percent.”
With their season on the line and their backs to the wall, the Breakers, trailing by 7-5, tied the score at 7 in a dramatic top of the ninth. “You got to put runs on the board or you’re going home,” said Whiting.
The Ospreys’ closer, Kris Selvaggi, struggled that inning, walking the first three batters, giving up a two-run double to Whiting, and walking another batter before being pulled. But Vaughn Hayward came to the rescue. With the bases loaded, he got three outs — one on a forceout throw from Carroll to catcher Matt Halloran at home plate — and prevented further damage.
The game’s first three batters reached base. Jordan Zech made it to first base on a bad-hop single over second baseman Brockett’s shoulder on the game’s first pitch, Craig Matteo chopped a single into right field, and Steve Harrington walked. They all scored when Steve Schrenk (3 for 5, three runs batted in) clocked a triple to right-center field.
The Ospreys pulled two runs back in the bottom half of the inning. After walks by Ryan Brown and Brockett, Furr ripped a two-run single through the infield.
The Breakers made it 4-2 in the second. McMahon led off by shooting a double down the left-field line. The next batter, Alvarez, laid down a bunt. Williams scooped up the ball, but fired a low throw past Carroll and into right field, allowing McMahon to trot home.
In the third, the Ospreys knocked out Southampton’s starting pitcher, Anthony Eichhorn, and went ahead. Following a leadoff walk by Brockett, Carroll reached out at a pitch for a broken-bat single. Then Furr singled in a run, and Eichhorn was taken out of the game. The reliever, Tim Trimarchi, retired the next two batters, but then Southold High School alumnus Darrin Standish drove a two-run double over the head of the center fielder, Zech. Standish was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple, but the Ospreys had a 5-4 lead.
After allowing four runs in the first two innings, Williams settled down. He had 10 strikeouts through six innings, fanning the side in the first (all looking) and in the fifth. Over seven innings, Williams gave up nine hits and five runs, three of which were earned. He threw 100 pitches.
In the fifth, the Ospreys loaded the bases with the aid of a Furr single, two errors and walk. After Trimarchi got the next two batters out, Brown dropped a two-run single into right field for a 7-4 Ospreys lead.
The Breakers made it a two-run game in the sixth when Zech slapped a run-scoring single.
Later in the game, though, the Breakers responded to adversity, and received a little help along the way.
Said Whiting, “That’s baseball.”