HCBL SEMIFINALS, GAME 1 | BREAKERS 7, OSPREYS 1
A five-runs-batted-in game doesn’t come along often for a player. They are to be savored. They are to be cherished. They are to be remembered.
Mitchell McGeein knows the deal. But the Southampton Breakers first baseman also knows the good feeling that comes with it is fleeting.
“It will last until I go to bed, but then as soon as I get up in the morning, it’s like it never happened,” he said. “It’s another day at the ballpark and try to repeat what I did today.”
At least McGeein can go to bed knowing that his team is halfway toward securing a place in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League championship series, no small thanks to him.
McGeein, a junior at Eastern Michigan who is from Calgary, Canada, had quite a day for himself on Monday when the playoffs began. The No. 3 batter in Southampton’s order drove in five of his team’s runs and scored the other two as the Breakers romped, 7-1, over the defending champion North Fork Ospreys.
The Ospreys have a chance to even the best-of-three series Tuesday night when the teams meet again in Peconic. If needed, a third game would be played in Southampton on Wednesday.
McGeein was a force, going 3 for 4, homering and stroking a double. He struck out in his first plate appearance, but rang off hit after hit after hit after that.
“It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s definitely a humbling feeling,” he said.
Following the game, while McGeein was being interviewed by a reporter, teammate Ricky Surum walked up to McGeein and, tongue in cheek, said, “Better luck next game,” patting him on the back as if he was consoling him.
McGeein is no stranger to RBI. He produced seven of them in a game against the Shelter Island Bucks a couple of weeks ago, tying the league’s single-game record. For the regular season, McGeein had 29 RBI, matching him with the Riverhead Tomcats’ Hunter Dolshun for the league lead.
“He’s been clutch for us all year and today was another example of him hitting in clutch situations for us,” Breakers manager Rob Cafiero said. “When we need a hit, I like seeing him up.”
The win, Southampton’s ninth in 11 games, raised its record this year against the Ospreys to 5-2.
Ospreys manager Bill Ianniciello didn’t sound pleased by what he saw. “We didn’t execute anything at the plate with runners on base,” he said. “We didn’t make basic plays defensively. They hit in their situations and we didn’t.”
The Breakers, who are 15-6 at home this summer, had momentum — and McGeein’s bat — in their favor on Monday. He delivered three long drives to left field. The first one flew over left fielder Ryan Mahoney and reached the fence, clearing the bases, which were full, for a 3-1 lead in the third inning.
Two innings later, Marquise Gill, who also attends Eastern Michigan, and McGeein clocked back-to-back RBI doubles for a 5-1 lead. McGeein scored on a fielder’s choice later in the inning to add a run to the lead.
The final piece of McGeein’s box-score line was filled in the seventh when he smoked a high shot over the fence for a home run, his sixth this summer.
“He had a tremendous day,” said Ospreys shortstop Luke Stampfl, who didn’t do badly himself, churning out three hits. “That kid Mitch really knows how to hit the ball.”
McGeein’s performance overshadowed a fine pitching effort by Mark Wilson, who turned in a complete game. The right-hander threw 134 pitches, 87 for strikes. He had seven strikeouts and three walks.
One of the seven hits Wilson conceded was a two-out single by Austin Miller that led to an errant throw, allowing Penn Murfee to score in the third. It was North Fork’s only run.
“It wasn’t in the cards,” said Stampfl. He added, “We had chances just like them, except they were the ones taking advantage of it and we didn’t.”
The Breakers, who finished the regular season tied for first place with the Sag Harbor Whalers, are seeking their second league championship in three years.
The Ospreys have reached the playoffs in all six years of their history, and advanced to the championship series in four of those years.
Asked what message he had for his team, Ianniciello said: “We got another game tomorrow. It’s that simple.”
How difficult would it be to bounce back and win the series?
“It’s not difficult if you play the game, you execute the game,” Ianniciello said. “It’s not difficult at all. When you don’t execute the game, you’re not giving yourself a chance, and we’re not giving ourselves a chance right now.”
BUCKS TAKE GAME 1 The Shelter Island Bucks won Game 1 of their semifinal series by an 11-2 count against the Sag Harbor Whalers at Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor. Andrew Casali went 4 for 5 for the Bucks, who received home runs from Jimmy Jack, Troy Scocca and Brian Kraft. Isaac O’Bear got the win, allowing two runs and eight hits over seven innings.
Austin Bello had three hits and stole a base for the Whalers.