Following a spirited charge to close out the regular season, the Sag Harbor Whalers of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League (HCBL) brought the same competitive fire to their semifinal playoff series against the Riverhead Tomcats this week.
The Whalers dropped game one of the three-game series, 4-3, on Thursday, but bounced back in front of their hometown fans with a 9-5 victory at Mashashimuet Park on Friday. With a berth in the HCBL Championship series on the line, Riverhead scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 4-4 tie back home on Saturday and advanced with a 6-4 victory that brought Sag Harbor’s summer league season to a close.
Riverhead now will face the Westhampton Aviators, who knocked off the Southampton Breakers in the other semifinal series this week, with a league title on the line. Game one of the three-game championship series will be played in Westhampton on Monday, July 29, at 4:30 p.m. Game two will be played at Veterans Memorial Park in Riverhead on Tuesday, with the series returning to Aviator Field in Westhampton for game three on Wednesday.
Sag Harbor’s series with Riverhead was competitive right down to the last inning, when Riverhead’s Joseph Murphy (NYIT) closed the book on the Whalers’ season by pitching a scoreless top of the ninth. The Whalers actually outhit Riverhead, 10 to seven, but committed six costly errors that led to an unearned run off starter John LaPointe (Wagner) earlier in the game.
The Whalers bats were alive all season with cleanup hitter River Town (LSU-Eunice) leading the way over the three-game stretch. Town combined to go 7-for-12 in the series with seven runs scored and two RBIs, and capped an offensive explosion in game two on Friday with a two-run homerun in the bottom of the sixth inning that gave the Whalers a comfortable 9-1 lead. The bomb to right field scored Peter Marren (Bucknell), who was another offensive standout this season and finished the postseason with a .462 batting average, 5 RBIs and three runs scored.
Sag Harbor had a rocky season off the field with a managerial change mid-season, from Steve Litras to James Pereira, and a shakeup in the front office where Tom Gleason returned to his role as general manager after retiring from the same post just last year. Prior to this season, Gleason had led the Whalers since their inception alongside Sandi Kruel, who is now the league president.
The Whalers went 19-21 during the regular season to finish in third place behind Riverhead and Westhampton, which finished with identical 27-11-2 records.