Whalers Fall Back with Rest of the Pack in HCBL

Sag Harbor Whalers Pitcher Aljo Sujak works the mound in the early innings against Southampton on Sunday. Michael Heller photo

After winning their first seven games of the season, and eight of their first nine, it looked as if it was going to be a runaway season for the Sag Harbor Whalers in this summer’s edition of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.

But there’s a reason why the regular season is two months long.

Since their blistering start, the Whalers (10-8) have only won three of their last 11 games, as of Monday morning, allowing teams such as the Shelter Island Bucks (11-4) and Westhampton Aviators (12-4-1) — who were neck and neck with Sag Harbor to start the season — to stay atop the league standings.

In a key mid-season matchup, Westhampton defeated Sag Harbor, 4-2, at home on Saturday evening behind what was, and has been all season, a solid pitching performance from Harrison Cohen. The George Washington product out of Syosset limited the Whalers to one unearned run on three hits and a walk while striking out seven.

It was more than enough for the Westhampton offense, which got on the board on back-to-back run scoring walks by Nick Bottari (Southeastern) and Landon Gray (Tennessee) in the top of the first. A run-scoring double by Chaney Dodge (Northwestern State) and a run-scoring single by Bailey Peterson (Michigan State) in the seventh added some insurance.

Sag Harbor looked to get back on track against a struggling Southampton team on Sunday, but the Breakers (5-12-1), looking to turn their season around, swept the doubleheader, taking the first game, 9-2, following that up with an 8-1 victory. It was Southampton’s third consecutive win, the team’s longest win streak of the season. The Breakers hadn’t lost a game, as of Tuesday morning, since June 20, having tied the Long Island Warriors in the second game of a doubleheader that day after losing the first game, 13-12.

The Breakers took game one of Sunday’s doubleheader behind a five-run second inning, which included a perfectly executed suicide squeeze bunt by Isaiah Winikur (Towson). And it was more than enough for Rob Lucano (Hofstra), who allowed just two earned runs in six innings of work in his best outing this summer.

The Breakers kept things rolling in game two, scoring all eight of their runs through the first three innings. Reed Babin (LSU-Eunice) drove in a pair of runs on a base hit in a five-run third for Southampton, which got another solid pitching performance from Joe Cinnella. The Seton Hall left-hander out of Mahwah, New Jersey, allowed one earned run on five hits and struck out five without allowing a walk. A solo home run in the third off the bat of Brock Franks (Northwest Florida) was Cinnella’s first earned run in 14 innings pitched this season.

Whaler Among League’s Elite

Sag Harbor Whaler River Town (LSU-Eunice) is one of HCBL’s top hitters so far this season, batting .362 in 69 at bats. Only Shelter Island’s Mike Guanci Jr. (Trinity) and Long Island’s John Marti (Delaware) have higher averages, but in fewer at bats, and Town is also among the league’s best in RBIs with 13, tied with two others for third.