North Fork Ospreys gear up for another season of Hamptons Collegiate Baseball

For this particular baseball summer league, it’s not necessarily if you win or lose, it’s how you develop your game.

The Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, which starts its 15th season Friday, gives many college players an opportunity to hone their skills and, hopefully, catch the eye of Major League scouts.

North Fork Ospreys manager Brett Picaro, who has coached and managed in numerous summer circuits, including the legendary Cape Cod League, understands his job: give every player an opportunity to play.

“When you come to a league like this, the expectation is that guys are going to play,” said Picaro, whose team hosts the Shelter Island Bucks at Cochran Park in Peconic on Friday at 7 p.m. “Guys are going to get at-bats, guys are getting innings on the mound. Everybody’s going to be called upon. Some of them might be put in different situations than maybe what they’re used to, especially if somebody’s performing particularly well and maybe we don’t want to take him out of the lineup. It’s for them to develop to showcase their talents.”

And of course, winning is important as well.

“I expect them to compete,” Picaro said. “That’s just the nature of playing a sport. If they have that mentality, I feel the team should perform pretty well because you got a bunch of guys going out there that want to show what they can do, regardless of if they’re hitting at the top of the order or at the bottom of the order, or a pitcher that’s coming out of the pen or being a starter. I just hope to put them in a position to showcase their talent and to have some success.”

For Ospreys general manager Joe Pizzingrillo, it’s not just about baseball, but the entire experience of living on the North Fork and living with a host family during the summer.

“We try to do some team building things initially early on,” he said. “Team dinners build some camaraderie. In seasons past, the team has bonded. They spend a lot of time together, [at] practice and socially. The summer experience out on the North Fork is a special time. The community embraces the players. They treat them like celebrities. Some players eventually progress to professional baseball, some even into the major leagues.”

Corbin Burnes, pictured playing for the Riverhead Tomcats in 2014, is currently pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers. He won the National Cy Young Award in 2021. (Courtesy file photo)

Two former Ospreys righthanded pitchers — Penn Murfee and Corbin Burnes — are playing in the majors, Pizzingrillo noted. Murfee, who was placed on the 15-day injured list Monday with right elbow inflammation, has notched a 5-2 record and 2.70 ERA this season after breaking with the Seattle Mariners last year. Burnes, the 2021 National League Cy Young Award winner, has recorded a career 40-23 mark and a 3.23 ERA with the Milwaukee Brewers. He is 5-4 so far this season.

Palmer O’Beirne, a lefthander who hurled for Huntington High School, has Cutchogue listed as his hometown on the HCBL website.

The Ospreys are one of six teams in the league, which includes the Shelter Island Bucks, Sag Harbor Whalers, Westhampton Aviators, South Shore Clippers and Southampton Breakers. The regular season runs through July 23, with the playoffs immediately following.

The 10th NCBL all-star game will be hosted by the defending champion Whalers at Mashashimuet Park on Saturday, July 15.

In Friday’s pre-game ceremony at 6:30 p.m., the Newman Family and Dylan Newman Forever 5 Foundation will be honored as one of the members of the family will throw out the first pitch. Dylan Newman, a former Southold H.S. standout, passed away from a rare bone cancer last September.

The Ospreys are looking for local families to host their players through the end of July. If you are interested in hosting, call Patti Moore at 631-833-1353.

“Host families are always a high priority for us,” Pizzingrillo said. “They’ve been very generous with their time and their home by housing players. I was talking to someone yesterday who has been in touch with a player that they hosted almost 10 years ago. They’ve seen that player go to work and get married and even have children of his own. They stayed in touch with their host family. These experiences are not just the summer experience. They truly last a lifetime.”