Baseball: Osprey shortstop Acker solid in Hamptons circuit debut

Rain might have suspended the North Fork Osprey’s season opener Friday night after 4-1/2 innings, but it hardly doused the competitive nature of shortstop Ty Acker.

In his first game since suffering a meniscus injury before George Washington University’s spring season, Acker looked like he was in mid-season form in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League game at Cochran Park in Peconic.

He smacked two doubles in three at-bats and looked quite smooth in the field, starting two double plays against the Shelter Island Bucks in a 2-2 deadlock. The game will resume at Cochran Saturday, June 22, at 5 p.m., before the scheduled 7 p.m. game between the teams.

Only a week ahead of the start of his junior season, Acker injured his knee and was forced to sit out the campaign.

“It was a long rehab process to get back,” Acker said. “I got back two weeks ago. I’ve been training really hard to come out here and perform. I think tonight just showed all the hard work I put in.”

Added manager Vinnie Morelli: “He’s got some pads on the knees to be able to protect them a little bit. He’s going to be good to go for the rest of the summer. We’re excited.”

Acker was just excited about returning to the field.

“I’ve been thinking about this game for a long time coming out here but when game time came around, I was relaxed,” he said. “I was confident. I was ready to go at the dish.”

Indeed, he was.

With lead-off Jackson Ciccone aboard with a walk in the bottom of the first inning, the left-handed hitting Acker ripped a double down the left field line. In the second, Acker drove in Bobby Jellison with another hard-hit double to left.

“I’m always looking to go the other way, get the feel of my swing down,” he said. “So, if you’re going to throw me outside, I’m just going to go with that pitch.”

The 6-foot, 190-pound. Acker also shined on the field, starting a pair of 6-4-3 double plays to help get starter Brent Herrmann (second inning) and reliever Greg Friedman of Wading River (fifth) out of jams.

After playing with the Ospreys in 2023, Acker wanted to return this summer. He lives 34 miles to the west in Holtsville, so the commute isn’t that bad.

“I love the North Fork,” he said. “Being at home, it just made it a lot easier to come out here to play. I love the guys. A couple returners this year. It’s just a lot of fun to play in this league and be around all these guys.”

Last year, 21-year-old Acker led the Ospreys in hitting with a .330 average and a .422 on-base percentage. He added a home run, 18 RBIs, 14 runs scored and eight stolen bases. Acker struck out only eight times in 100 at-bats.

That was pretty impressive, but Acker has set his sights on other goals.

“I want to hit for more power than last season,” he said. “I only had one home run; I’m looking hopefully maybe double digits.”

None of the six HCBL teams had anything near preseason training. The Ospreys had only two practice sessions before Friday. Pitchers from both teams combined for some 220 pitches through 4/2 innings.

The Ospreys threatened in every inning, loading the bases three times and stranding 11 runners.

“It was a day to knock the rust off a little bit and the guys came out and did a little bit more than that,” Morelli said. “We were able to get some runners on early. We were able to cash in.”

After graduating from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pa., which included stints as a ball player and assistant baseball coach, 25-year-old Morelli made his debut as a manager.

It was only a small sample, but Morelli said he felt comfortable.

“Honestly, I wasn’t nervous as I thought I was going to be,” he said. “I thought it was going be more of a day that I needed to settle down and take some deeper breaths. I just rolled right into it. I was really excited. I think the guys and Joey [Perkins. coach] really helped me out. I’m really appreciative of those guys. I’m really appreciative of the players, too. They made it really easy on me so far.”