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Baseball: Infield defense makes difference for Ospreys

It may seem like it, but it really wasn’t all that long ago when the North Fork Ospreys were struggling at 6-12.

The Ospreys are doing better now. They are currently 17-16 and sitting in what would be the fourth and final playoff spot.

So, what changed?

Basically, the infield defense, said coach Bill Ianniciello.

Early on the Ospreys had players playing out of position. Things have since settled down with an infield that has had Chris Adams at third base, Luke Stampfl at shortstop, Chris Archer at second base and Hudson LaBorde and Bryce Ramsay spending time at first.

“Pitching has been steady,” Ianniciello said. “We hit enough. You got to play sound baseball.”

It doesn’t hurt that the Ospreys have been getting some fine offensive production from players like Parker Bates (.289, six home runs, 26 RBIs through Monday), a line-drive hitter with power, and Mike Sciorra (.344, one homer, 10 RBIs), who has been turning in quality at-bats since bouncing back from an early-season ankle injury.

“I’m happy with my numbers,” Bates said. “I’ve had my stuff I needed to work on and I’m working on it, so success has happened.”

Stampfl said, “Our pitchers have been throwing great and the hitters have been having great ABs.”

•  My nephew the pitcher

When Andrew Ciocia joined the Ospreys this summer, no introductions to Bill Ianniciello were necessary. Ciocia, you see, is Ianniciello’s nephew.

Ciocia, who will be a senior at Jacksonville University in Florida, is 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA. In 34 2/3 innings, he has 37 strikeouts, allowing 32 hits and 12 walks.

Two years ago Ciocia played for the Shelter Island Bucks when the righthander injured his pitching elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery. “He’s bounced back,” said Ianniciello.

Ianniciello said Ciocia throws four pitches for strikes and locates well. “He mostly stays over the middle of the plate,” Ianniciello said. “He knows how to execute.”

What is it like coaching your nephew?

“He’s easy,” Ianniciello said. “He’s a great kid. He’ll do whatever role we ask him to do.”

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Photo caption: Parker Bates hit his sixth home run of the season Sunday in Westhampton. (Credit: Bill Landon)