Baseball: Solberg leads way as Ospreys bat down Battlecats

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | North Fork second baseman Ryan Burns fielding a ground ball Friday night against Center Moriches.


It could that the North Fork Ospreys are more comfortable and locked in at the plate. Or maybe it’s a matter of opposing pitching staffs tiring and running thin on fresh arms. Regardless, one thing is undeniable: The Ospreys are hitting the heck out of the baseball these days.

The evidence has been seen in recent results. On Thursday, the Ospreys found themselves trailing by eight runs before coming to bat in the top of the ninth inning in an Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League game against the Sag Harbor Whalers at Mashashimuet Park. Incredibly, the Ospreys started the inning with seven straight hits, rallied for nine runs that inning and won, 13-12.

“We led off with a single, and then another one and another one,” said Ospreys second baseman Ryan Burns.

“That was probably the craziest game I’ve ever been a part of,” said Ryan Solberg, a field player who was pressed into pitching duty and gained the win in two-thirds of an inning on the mound.

Ospreys coach Bill Ianniciello called the game “extraordinary.” He said he could compare that game to only one other one that he was involved in as a player “many moons ago.” Ianniciello said, “I think we’ve been hitting into some bad luck, and I think we got a lot of it back at once.”

And then there was Friday night’s game.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Eric Romano was one of seven North Fork batters who had a multi-hit game in the win over Center Moriches.

Solberg stroked three hits and six other Ospreys had two each in an 11-7 defeat of the Center Moriches Battlecats at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic. Solberg stroked two doubles and a single, driving in two runs in the process. Two-hit games were turned in by Burns (two runs batted in), Kyle Adie (one RBI), Anthony Aceto (two RBI), Eric Romano (one RBI) and Robert Paller. The Ospreys (11-6), who produced 15 hits, took the lead for good in the third inning when they strung together four runs for a 4-3 lead.

Eight of the nine Ospreys who batted had at least one hit.

“I’m pretty sure this is as hot as we’ve been,” said Burns.

Through the team’s first 15 games, the Ospreys had a modest .246 team batting average. Tim Panetta (.424, three home runs, 10 RBI) and Dan Kerr (.333, two home runs, nine RBI) were North Fork’s leading hitters. The team’s pitching has been reliable and steady, but in the past two games North Fork’s hitting has been impressive.

“We’re hitting, but we’re at the point where some of the teams — us included — are a little stretched in pitching,” Ianniciello said after Friday night’s game. “They’ve seen pitchers a couple of times. Hitters are getting a little more locked in. We’ve been having better at-bats. Tonight we were aggressive in the right spots.”

Meanwhile, Ospreys pitcher Vaughn Hayward picked up the win with nine strikeouts. He gave up four earned runs, nine hits and three walks over six innings.

Center Moriches (10-9) received a big game from Ryan Ellis, who went 3 for 3, with a home run, two RBI, a double and a walk. Griffin Moore also homered for the Battlecats.

The Ospreys never lost the lead after Alex Perez’s sacrifice fly snapped a 3-3 tie in the third. For the game, they hit 7 for 17 with runners in scoring position.

“Basically, comfort at the plate is the biggest thing that we’re starting to get, and with that comes confidence, and then it just kind of skyrockets from there,” Solberg said. “Our team is on fire. We’re really hitting the ball well.”

A team that hits well has confidence, a team that has confidence plays loose, and a team that plays loose puts itself in a good position to win.

“Our pitching has been phenomenal,” Solberg said. “Now we’re starting to crush the ball, and that’s when it gets really fun, when you have good pitching and solid hitting.”

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