It’s Bombs Away For Aviators

Gordon M. Grant
The last place Southampton Breakers, off to a dismal start, are beginning to win some games.

The Westhampton Aviators, first place in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, have found a simple strategy for success: bang the hell out of the ball and see if the other guys can hit it harder.

Case in point: June 29, against the Riverhead Tomcats. The visitors scored seven times including a grand-slammer off the bat of Jarred Greene, a sweet-swinging lefty outfielder who attend Santa Barbara.

But the Aviators answered with 13 of their own, including seven in the last two innings. Everyone, it seems, is lacing the ball. On this day, home runs by Danny Franchi (out of Center Moriches) and Chaney Dodge provided the fireworks.

The victory gave the Aviators a 16-6-1 mark on the season, good for 33 points. The loss stymied the second-place Tomcats, now 12-7-1.

A day earlier, the Aviators came away with a 10-8 victory at Aviator Field on Friday over the Southampton Breakers.

Westhampton got out to an early 3-0 lead on the Breakers in the first inning but Southampton would respond, scoring two runs on RBI singles from Kyle Lagrutta (St. Thomas Aquinas) and Anthony Raucci (St. Joseph’s-LI). The Aviators scored three more in the second on RBIs from Daniel Franchi (Binghamton), David Franchi (NYIT) and Dodge (Northwestern State) taking a 6-2 lead.

Southampton scored a pair of runs in the top of the fourth to get within a run of Westhampton. But in the bottom of the fifth, the Aviators would get a run on a wild pitch that scored Bailey Peterson (Michigan State), giving the Aviators a 7-5 lead.

The resilient Breakers came back yet again, scoring three times, with Michael Ferrara’s single-scoring Gerard Sweeney (Lehigh) the deciding bow.

But the Aviators were packing the wood. Peterson led off the inning with a solo home run to tie the game at 8-8. Later with two outs in the eighth, Sean O’Keefe (Western Michigan) and Daniel Franchi hit back-to-back RBI singles. Logan Verrino (Florida Southern) pitched a scoreless ninth for Westhampton to get his third save of the season.

By the way, the Aviators made HCBL history on Thursday night, June 27, scoring 22 runs in the second game of a doubleheader against the North Fork Ospreys.

Westhampton defeated North Fork by a final score of 22-3 and tied the HCBL single-game record for runs scored in a game originally set by the Southampton Breakers in 2017 against Sag Harbor. The Aviators also broke a single-game record for team RBI with 22 breaking the previous record of 19, which was done on three separate occasions.

The Sag Harbor Whalers are sticking around, touting a 12-10 mark and hoping to maintain a playoff berth.

Even the Southampton Breakers have hope. The locals got off to a horrendous start, winning only one game in the first three weeks. But a recent run of four wins has left the Breakers with a 5-15-1 mark, enough to keep playoff hopes alive. The Breakers beat Pierson twice, 8-0, 9-2 in a Sunday doubleheader June 23 to begin the modest streak.

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