When Chad Pike didn’t hit a home run in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League’s home run derby, which preceded its eighth All-Star Game at Cochran Park in Peconic on Saturday evening, he got a text from his older brother Chris Pike, who threw to him during the derby.
The text read: “Man, who cares about that. Go and play well tonight. Go get that MVP.”
That’s exactly what he did.
Chad Pike was named Most Valuable Player of HCBL’s All-Star Game after going 3 for 5 with a double, a mammoth three-run home run and five RBIs to lead the Gold All-Stars to a big 17-5 defeat of the Red All-Stars. The 2017 Southampton High School graduate who attended Suffolk County Community College this past spring and plays for HCBL’s South Shore Clippers had a big smile after he was named MVP.
“My family, my parents always come to every game, so to do well for them really means the most, that they’re happy. It makes me feel good,” he said. “I got my coaches always rooting for me, my teammates always rooting for me, so to go out and play well, it definitely makes me feel good.”
Chad Pike wasn’t originally scheduled to compete in the home run derby, but after his Clippers teammate Alex Ungar (Albany) couldn’t compete, he was slotted in. Chris Pike, who graduated from Southampton in 2016 and eventually pitched in the Tampa Bay Rays farm system, made the last-minute trip to Peconic to throw to his younger brother, who was disappointed he wasn’t able to hit one out during the competition, but was glad he could make up for it.
“It definitely makes me feel good that he didn’t drive out here for nothing,” Chad said. “I did well and made him proud.”
The Gold All-Stars was comprised of players from the Southampton Breakers, South Shore Clippers and Sag Harbor Whalers, and they poured on the offense throughout the night, jumping out to a five-run lead through the game’s first three innings. The Red Team All-Stars, featuring players from the Riverhead Tomcats, Westhampton Aviators and North Fork Ospreys, got themselves on the board in the top of the fourth inning, and after the Gold Stars added three runs to their lead in the fifth, the Red Stars cut into that lead and got within striking distance with a four-run seventh that made it an 8-5 game.
But the Gold Stars bounced right back in the bottom half of the seventh with a seven-run outburst that included Pike’s three-run shot that was well over the 397-foot sign in center field.
Southampton Breakers manager Rob Cafiero was the Gold Team manager and said it was a lot of fun being on the winning side.
“When you look up at the scoreboard and see all of the runs we put up, it’s a fun game for everybody. Some of the pitchers maybe not, but it was a fun day altogether,” he said after the game. “Always an honor to be out here, recognized by the league, managing the All-Star team. I’ve done this maybe two or three times, it’s always a fun night. You have the best players in the league together, you got the scouts out here to see the kids play, and that’s what it’s all about, seeing the kids play and having exposure for them.”
With the season already shortened due to COVID, it was questionable whether HCBL was going to host an All-Star Game this season. But president Sandi Kruel went ahead with it, and after about 350 people or so showed up to watch the game, including a handful of Major League scouts, she said it was well worth the team effort to pull it all together. She was particularly proud of Chad Pike playing well and earning the MVP, after having known the Pike family for so long.
“Chad has just gotten progressively better and it’s been a real pleasure to watch him become what he is and he was outstanding tonight,” she said. “His home run was just a bomb. He really did deserve it so I’m really proud. I knew his brothers, so it’s really come full circle for me to have him get that, it was pretty cool.”
Typically, there are at least two weeks or so of the regular left following the All-Star Game, but with this season shortened, the league wrapped up its regular season on Tuesday with its postseason to start right after that. In the past, the top four teams of the regular season advance to the postseason, but all six of the league’s teams will make what is a single-elimination formatted playoffs.
The top two teams in the league will get first round byes, with the third place team playing the fourth place team and the fifth place team playing the sixth place team. As of Monday morning, Southampton (17-11) was in first place, followed by Westhampton (15-11-1), Riverhead (14-12-1), South Shore (13-14-1), Sag Harbor (11-16) and North Fork (10-16-1).
Everyone involved thinks it’s anyone’s championship this season.
“We’re starting to play really well,” Pike said of his South Shore team. “The whole lineup is starting to play really well, our pitching is doing really good, our defense is picking up, so this is the best time to start playing well, and I think we’re going to ride this momentum and take the whole thing.”
“I think it’s going to go right down to the wire,” Kruel said. “I think it’s going to be anybody’s championship this year. Any team can beat any team on any given night, and I’ve seen it happen, where the first place team has been mercied by the last place team, and then it’ll go vice versa. Everybody gets a chance in it because it really is anyone’s championship this year.”
Luttazi Outlasts Pair Of Breakers To Win Derby
North Fork Osprey Steven Luttazi (UMass) led off the championship round with seven home runs to beat Southampton Breakers Lance Kruse (Southwestern) and Mason Marquez (Abilene Christian) in the home run derby. Marquez, who won the fan vote to reach the competition, finished just one behind of Luttazi with six dingers, while Kruse hit four in the championship round. It was Kruse who initially wowed the crowd in the opening round, hitting eight straight round trippers to finish with the most of the round with nine.
Luttazi was the second Osprey to win the derby, joining Ben Terwilliger (Maine), who won it in 2018.