Shelter Island Earns Playoff Berth

If Jake MacKenzie, a Fordham sophomore, doesn’t fulfill his dream of becoming a major league baseball player, he might consider a career in theater.

That’s because the infielder from Wallington, CT certainly has a flair for the dramatic. In fact, under the lights Friday night he turned in a record performance to propel his team, the Shelter Island Bucks, to the fifth and final playoff slot in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League.

Playing on the road in Peconic, MacKenzie drilled six hits in as many at bats as the Bucks advanced to the postseason for the first time since their 2015 championship series, beating the North Fork Ospreys by a final score of 15-6.

The Bucks found themselves in a five-run first inning hole with a grand slam off the bat of Ben Terwilliger doing most of the damage.

But the visitors persevered, drawing to within a run in the third on a two-run double by MacKenzie. Alex Volpi drove in the tying run in the fourth and drilled his 14th home run the following inning, tying the all-time single season record with former Center Moriches Battlecat/Southampton Breaker Rob Moore (St. Peter’s).

Stoked, the Bucks scored three more runs in the sixth and again in the ninth. Meanwhile, Jonas Webler was shutting down the Ospreys. He hurled three innings of shutout relief to send the Bucks to the HCBL postseason for the fourth time in franchise history.

For the Ospreys (14-21-4), it ends a streak of nine consecutive seasons the team has reached the postseason dating back to their expansion season in the HCBL back in 2009.

MacKenzie finished the night a perfect 6-for-6 at the plate. The Fordham infielder became the second Buck and HCBL player to record six hits in a game. Eddie Haus (St. Mary’s, CA) previously accomplished the feat in 2015 during his HCBL MVP season.

The playoff field is set, but the pairings have yet to be determined, with a week left in the regular season. The Long Island Road Warriors, 24-13 held a narrow lead over the Riverhead Tomcats (22-13-3). One of the teams will get the top seed. Sag Harbor (17-17-4) and Westhampton (19-19) are also in. The Bucks are 17-18-2 going into the final week of the season.

The Road Warriors won twice on the road to maintain their slim lead, beating Sag Harbor 3-0 on July 18 and the Ospreys 6-5 the next day. Dom Savino went seven strong winners to run his record to 3-0 against the Whalers, yielding only three his. Savino struck out seven and lowered his earned run average to 0.98. Brandon LaManna pitched a scoreless ninth to earn the save.

Mathew Stepnoski drilled a grand slam in the first inning for the winners to put the Ospreys behind the eight ball.

The Tomcats have won four in a row, the latest a 5-4 nail-biter on July 20 against the Aviators.

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