A baseball field can be an awfully dangerous place, even before a game.
Or, perhaps better stated, especially before a game.
A reminder of that was served about 90 minutes before Friday’s Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League game at Aviator Field in Westhampton when North Fork Ospreys player Ben Terwilliger went down after being struck in the head by a line drive during batting practice.
Terwilliger was trotting after a ground ball along the leftfield line with his back to the batting cage when a sinking liner hit by Matt Almonte clocked him in the back left side of his head. Terwilliger dropped to the ground. Coaches and players attended to him and he was able to rise to his feet and walk to the dugout, clutching an ice bag to the back of his head.
“At first, it’s just like a blunt force right to the head basically,” Terwilliger said after the game. “Then you just go down. It’s like a lot of ringing in your head … It was numb, but I was able to bounce back.”
Terwilliger, winner of the league’s recent Home Run Derby, played as a designated hitter in the Ospreys’ 10-3 win. He went 0-for-3, walking twice, scoring two runs and picking up an RBI.
As scary as the incident was, perhaps an even scarier situation materialized on the same field July 7 when the Ospreys’ Tom Brady was hit in the face by a line drive while taking a lead off third base. Although Brady appeared to escape serious injury, it was a horrifying sight for Ospreys coach Bill Ianniciello, who was serving as the third base coach at the time.
Horrifying “was the exact word I used,” Ianniciello said. “It was horrifying because I’m standing right behind the kid and from behind all I could see was it hit him. I didn’t know where in the face … He was just stunned.”
Getting hit by a ball like that is an occupational hazard for players, coaches, umpires and anyone else at a game.
Terwilliger said, “As soon as you step on the field, there’s always the risk for injury, you know, and that’s the risk you take, but it’s for the game we love.”
• Summer fun for Pansini
Alex Pansini, a Marist College sophomore from Westfield, N.J., is enjoying his summer. Not only is he getting to experience beaches and vineyards on his first visit to Long Island, but he’s developing further as a member of the Ospreys’ starting pitching staff.
Entering Monday, Pansini had a 2-2 record with a 2.33 ERA. In 27 innings, he had allowed 33 hits, with 26 strikeouts and six walks.
“I do miss home a lot, but it’s kind of fun to do something different in the summer,” said Pansini.
Like many HCBL players, Pansini saw limited action as a college freshman. The 6-1 righthander appeared in seven games, with an 8.74 ERA from 18 1/3 innings.
Pansini throws a fastball, slider and changeup. He wants to gain better command of all his pitches so he can throw them on various counts.
“It’s mostly just commanding pitches and getting people off-balance and hopefully getting outs,” he said.
• Yearbook photo
The HCBL’s 2018 yearbook has come out. The cover photo is a group shot with one player from each of the league’s seven teams (infielder Tyrese Clayborne represents the Ospreys) sitting behind three penguins at the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead.
Photo caption: Ben Terwilliger follows through on a swing while playing as a designated hitter for the North Fork Ospreys Friday. Earlier in the day during batting practice he was struck on the head by a line drive. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)