The playoffs have essentially begun for the North Fork Ospreys.
With the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League in the final stretch of its 36-game regular season, the parity is evident. The top six of the league’s seven teams were all within nine points of each other through Tuesday’s games. Every game counts.
The Ospreys didn’t do themselves any favors Tuesday, dropping a doubleheader to the first-place Sag Harbor Whalers, 8-4 and 6-5, at Mashashimuet Park.
The fourth and fifth seeds will play in a wild-card game Sunday. Then the remaining four teams head into the semifinals, which will be best-of-three series, as will the championship series.
With six games remaining, the Ospreys (12-14-4, 28 points) sat on the outside looking in from sixth place, one point behind the Shelter Island Bucks (13-16-3).
“We’re like right there,” said Ospreys pitcher Jake Halloran, a Hofstra senior from Wading River. “Right now we’re sixth in the rankings, one spot away. It’s a good possibility.”
The Ospreys, who have lost seven of their last 11 games, were to play at the Southampton Breakers yesterday. Four of their last six games will be at their home, Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic.
Tuesday’s doubleheader in the blazing heat (it was 88 degrees by the first pitch of Game 2) illustrated a helpful reminder: Winning isn’t easy.
“Very competitive league,” Halloran said. “Everybody’s good.”
The Ospreys did well to claw back from a 4-1 deficit in the second game. Bobby Pollock’s infield single in the sixth put them ahead, 5-4.
But the Whalers (17-13-3) aren’t in first place by accident. Keegan Rodin scored on a double-play ball to tie it at 5-5 in the sixth. An inning later, John Lopez ended it, charging home on a walk-off wild pitch.
Tom O’Connor, who went 4-for-5 in the twinbill, whacked a homer in the second for the Whalers.
Two local players pitched for the Ospreys in the game. Halloran worked five innings with five strikeouts, allowing five hits and two walks. He was charged with three earned runs.
“I did alright,” said Halloran, who is 3-0 with a 4.74 ERA. “I gave my team a chance to win and I didn’t have my best stuff today. I made do with what I had.”
Luke Hansen (0-2), a 6-foot-3 Sacred Heart University (Ct.) senior from Southold, handled the last inning, giving up three hits, two unearned runs and fanning one.
The Ospreys were held to three hits in the game, despite the Whalers losing their starting pitcher, Brett Borcherding, who exited because of injury after two-plus innings. After the game the righthander said he felt pain in his left shoulder. Ken Spadaccini (2-0) and Ryan Corbett handled the rest of the pitching without conceding a run.
The Ospreys banged out nine hits in the second game. Among them were two hits apiece by A.J. Anzai (.324), Pollock (.344) and Resetar (.295). Resetar, who caught the first game and was the designated hitter in the second, had a 4-for-7 day with two RBIs and two doubles.
“I think we’ve been playing good ball,” Hansen said, “just sometimes we make mistakes late, I make mistakes and sometimes it doesn’t go our way, but I think we got a lot of talent.”
In the opener, the Ospreys built a 4-1 lead by the third inning, only to see the Whalers total seven runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Ike Kiely’s opposite-field, two-run double and a run-scoring fielder’s choice by Alex Roessner put the Whalers ahead, 5-4.
“We played good, we played hard,” Halloran said. “We just came up short.”
Ospreys coach Jeremiah Arneson declined an interview request after the doubleheader.
Hansen is in his second season with the Ospreys, having rejoined the team about a month into the season.
“I’m always looking to just get better, even personally, and of course, win as a team,” he said. “I mean, who doesn’t want to win? Just looking at keep developing more as I get older. That’s really all that you could ask for.
“Any time you’re on the mound, you’re gonna get more experience. So experience is huge, and that’s what I would say is the main goal is getting more experience.”
Getting into the playoffs would help.
EX-OSPREY, EX-TOMCAT DRAFTED
A former Ospreys player from 2019, Vanderbilt outfielder Javier Vaz, was selected in the 15th round of the MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. Bryce Willits, a third baseman from UC Santa Barbara who played for the Riverhead Tomcats in 2019, was taken by the Chicago White Sox in the 18th round.