By Gavin Menu
A new batch of collegiate baseball players arrived this week — with quite a few familiar faces scattered around — to join teams in Westhampton, Southampton, Shelter Island, Sag Harbor, Montauk, and on the North Fork for a new season in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.
This summer marks the league’s ninth season since it began with just one team based out of Sag Harbor in 2008. Since then, dozens of alumni have gone on to play professionally, with three former HCBL players currently in the Major Leagues and another three knocking on the door in Triple-A, including Sag Harbor native Kyle McGowin. The new season begins Friday, June 3, with games in Shelter Island, Southampton and Westhampton. The Sag Harbor Whalers play their first game at Westhampton on Saturday at 2 p.m. The team’s first home game is scheduled for Sunday at 5 p.m. against Southampton.
The league has undergone some major changes with former president Brett Mauser stepping down in the offseason. He was replaced by Henry Bramwell, general manager for the Westhampton Aviators, who has been with the league since its inception. Mauser will stay on as director of recruiting with a goal of keeping parity in the six-team league.
The class of newcomers in Sag Harbor is headlined by Manny Ramirez Jr., a senior first baseman from the University of San Francisco and the son of former Boston Red Sox outfielder Manny Ramirez. A pair of impressive pitchers in Kendall Pomeroy (UMass – Lowell) and Cole Gibson (Oakland) headline the class of incoming pitchers. The Whalers will also have their usual touch of local flavor with Pierson alumni Nick Kruel (Tampa) and Colman Vila (Delaware) returning, and Aaron Schiavoni, a Pierson graduate who attends SUNY-Maritime, expected to join the club halfway through the season.
The Whalers welcome a new head coach this season as well in Nathan Lawrence, an assistant coach at the College of the Ozarks in Missouri, who graduated from the same school in 2012.
“It’s fun to see so many different guys from so many different schools and backgrounds all together in the same place,” Lawrence said on Tuesday, a few days after arriving in Sag Harbor. “Now it’s important for them to get to know each other so they can come together as a team.”
Lawrence said he had spoken to coaches from across the county about his players and the specific areas where each player needs to improve.
“I’m talking with someone’s coach every day,” the Whalers’ new skipper said. “We’ve got a good mix of guys who had really good seasons at their schools, along with some guys who are up and coming and have promising futures.”
Roughly halfway through the Whalers’ 42-game season will be the league’ annual all-star game, to be held this year on July 11 at Baseball Heaven in Yaphank. The postseason will be held the week following the regular season, as the Shelter Island Bucks look to defend their title from a season ago.