06/02/13 8:45pm
06/02/2013 8:45 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead's starting pitcher, Matt Peacock, gave up one earned run and four hits over six innings.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead’s starting pitcher, Matt Peacock, gave up one earned run and four hits over six innings.

TOMCATS 5, OSPREYS 4

It was a new beginning in more ways than one. A new season and a new league, and a season-opening game between two teams with plenty of new faces.

The seven eastern Suffolk County teams that formed a division of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League last year, broke off and formed their own circuit, the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League. The HCBL, one of 12 summer leagues in the country that is sanctioned by Major League Baseball, was christened on Sunday with three games to start the season.

After the league president, Brett Mauser, threw out the ceremonial first pitch, the North Fork Ospreys and the Riverhead Tomcats engaged in an old-fashioned thriller. A home run by Jerry Downs kick-started a four-run seventh inning for the Tomcats, who held on for a 5-4 victory on their home field. Both teams held leads in the game, showing their ability to bounce back.

“We just kept fighting and fighting and fighting,” said Downs, the right fielder from St. Thomas University (Fla).

Downs is one of the many newcomers to the league. The Ospreys have two returning players in infielders Ryan Burns and Austin Miller. The Tomcats have two players back as well, infielder Joe Forney and pitcher Alex Summers.

The only player on either team with local ties is Ospreys outfielder Yianni Rauseo, a former Mattituck High School star who is coming off his sophomore season at Oswego State. He did not play in Sunday’s game.

The Tomcats have some interesting additions themselves. Two of their players, Ozney Guillén and Austin Davis, have fathers who played in the major leagues. Ozzie Guillén earned fame as both a player for a number of clubs and as a manager for the Chicago White Sox and the Miami Marlins. Doug Davis was a pitcher for several major league teams.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | The Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League president, Brett Mauser, is handed the ball by Riverhead Tomcats catcher Jason Gordon after throwing the ceremonial first pitch.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | The Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League president, Brett Mauser, is handed the ball by Riverhead Tomcats catcher Jason Gordon after throwing the ceremonial first pitch.

“It’s a new breed of kids, and they know baseball,” Riverhead manager Randy Caden said. “You can see they know baseball.”

They surely know a game goes nine innings, and not to give up hope until it is over.

Following Downs’ solo blast to left field, a sacrifice fly by Michael Brosseau brought in the second run of the seventh. Jason Gordon and Jonah Lakatos later scored on a throwing error, giving the Tomcats a 5-3 lead. The Tomcats might have done more damage that inning if not for a splendid play by Ospreys shortstop Joe Salanitri. With a runner on second base, Tyler Fox struck a looping liner that Salanitri did well to race back on for a running backhanded grab in shallow left field that saved a run and ended the inning.

Caden, who because of personal reasons didn’t arrive at the field until the bottom of the second inning, joked, “I got them four runs, great coaching from the bench.”

The Ospreys made things interesting in the ninth, though, pulling to within 5-4 when a two-out chopper by James Howard rolled dead just inside the third baseline for a run-scoring single.

The fans weren’t the only ones sitting on the edge of their seats. “Even though it was the first game, it was nerve-racking,” said Caden.

With the bases loaded, relief pitcher Brendan Mulligan got Tom O’Neill to bounce into a 6-4 fielder’s choice, ending the game. Mulligan earned the win, allowing three hits over three innings while striking out five.

“That’s just what we do,” Ospreys center fielder Nick Heath said. “We just don’t give up on anything, and I feel like if we play like that all season, we’re going to have a great season.”

The two starting pitchers did well. Anthony Rosati of the Ospreys gave up five hits and one earned run in three and a third innings. Matt Peacock of the Tomcats went six innings, giving up four hits and one earned run.

Both sides sounded encouraged by what they saw.

“There’s plenty of talent here,” Ospreys manager Bill Ianniciello said. “We have good players from quality programs.”

Ianniciello noted that the summer league is a good opportunity for players to get at-bats and playing time. Some players coming off their freshmen seasons did not play much or at all if they were red-shirted. “A lot of them, for that reason, they’re eager to go,” said Ianniciello.

As is the case with many teams early in a college summer league season, the Tomcats were still awaiting the arrival of seven players. Because of that, the team didn’t have any extra field players available, so a pitcher, Lakatos, filled in as the designated hitter.

“We’re a little low right now, so as soon as we get a full team I think we’re going to be alright,” Caden said. “We made two [division] finals in three years, so I told these guys, maybe we can go all the way this year. It would be nice, you know.”

Those kind of thoughts come with opening day.

bliepa@timesreview.com

03/23/13 10:00am
03/23/2013 10:00 AM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO  |  Riverhead Tomcats first baseman Jimmy Luppens went 4-for-5 in Game 1 Monday.

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Jimmy Luppens bats for Riverhead against Shelter Island last season.

COLLEGE BASEBALL: Ospreys, Tomcats rosters released The newly formed Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, which includes the North Fork Ospreys and the Riverhead Tomcats, recently released its rosters for the 2013 season.

The Ospreys have a player with strong local ties, SUNY/Oswego outfielder Yianni Rauseo of Mattituck (’11). Three other Suffolk County residents are on the team: Temple sophomore catcher Mike D’Acunti of Dix Hills, St. John’s sophomore pitcher Anthony Rosati of Copiague and Queens College senior pitcher/utility player Joe Salanitri of West Islip.

New York colleges are also represented on the roster by St. John’s sophomore pitcher Thomas Hackimer and Fordham sophomore pitcher Cody Johnson.

Bill Ianniciello will return for the second year as North Fork’s head coach.

The Tomcats have two Long Island products on their team, Connecticut sophomore pitcher Christian Colletti of Rockville Centre and Richmond sophomore infielder Doug Kraeger of Malverne. Two other new Tomcats, New York Tech sophomore pitcher John Axley and Wagner junior catcher Jason Gordon, play college ball in New York.

Randy Caden returns as the coach.

One hundred college programs are represented on the rosters in the seven-team league, which includes teams in Center Moriches, Sag Harbor, Shelter Island, Southampton and Westhampton.

Former Shoreham-Wading River High School standout Mike O’Reilly (’12), a pitcher for Flagler College (Fla.), will play for the Center Moriches Battlecats.

Hamptons Collegiate Baseball spent the past five years as a member of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League before pulling away to create its own league.

“We are looking forward to taking this next step and working toward becoming one of the elite summer baseball leagues in the country,” the HCBL president, Brett Mauser, said in a statement. “Through the efforts and support of many we have reached this point, and we are excited about what the future holds.”

The HCBL has applied to join the National Alliance of Collegiate Summer Baseball, which includes the prestigious Cape Cod League. In addition, the HCBL filed an application to become sanctioned by Major League Baseball.

“Major League Baseball and the Alliance are two organizations that you want to have in your corner,” Mauser said. “Their support and direction would help assure that we continue to provide a great platform for student-athletes to develop their skills as they strive toward their goal of playing professionally.”

The league will begin play in early June.
BOB LIEPA
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Powers is Pitcher of Week Junior pitcher James Powers of Jamesport recently earned Skyline Pitcher of the Week honors. Powers tossed three and two-third innings of scoreless relief to earn his second victory of the season as Farmingdale State edged Plattsburgh State, 1-0. He allowed just one hit and fanned three, not issuing a walk. This season Powers has allowed six hits in 12 innings, with 13 strikeouts.

David Zilnicki, a senior left fielder from Riverhead, collected his 38th career stolen base, which passed Luis Feliciano for the most all time in Farmingdale State history

AUTO RACING: Figure Eight champ to be honored The Suffolk Association of Figure Eight Racing will honor Riverhead Raceway’s 2012 champion, Mike Mujsce of Westhampton Beach, at its annual awards banquet on April 7. Mujsce’s championship was the first of his career.

08/06/12 6:00pm
08/06/2012 6:00 PM

GARRETT MEADE FILE PHOTO | Shaun Hansen in his high school playing days.

Shaun Hansen might be the perfect example of the big fish-little pond syndrome.

During his high school playing days for the former combined Southold/Greenport baseball team and then Southold and Greenport separately, Hansen was a dominant force as both a hitter and a pitcher. He was a monster at the plate who hit for power and average. As a pitcher, he routinely fired fastballs past overmatched batters.

Then again, that was then, in the small pond of high school baseball on eastern Long Island. The present situation is quite different for Hansen. At 6 feet 3 inches tall and 205 pounds, Hansen is a sizable speciman, but he is no longer a big fish. For one thing, he’s no longer playing in the proverbial little pond. He is in a much larger pool now. As Hansen has found, college baseball is a whole new ball game.

Hansen learned early on in his freshman season at Suffolk County Community College that he needed to adjust to a higher level, not to mention a new position: third base.

“It was a lot different than high school, a lot more intense, but I like that,” Hansen said. “Everyone is an all star. I would go out there and I would play terrible the first couple of games. I would be like: ‘Wow, I need to go to the gym. I need to do something different to help me get better. I need to get in the cage more. I need to do this and that.’ It made me want to do better, want to work harder to get better.”

In continuance of that pursuit, Hansen played for the Riverhead Tomcats in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League this summer. He played first base, took some swings as a designated hitter and pitched some.

Hansen came off the bench in a pinch-hitting role last Thursday to line a single over third baseman Bobby Geren in the ninth inning of a 12-4 loss to the Southampton Breakers in Game 2 of the Hampton Division finals. The victory brought the Breakers their first division championship.

But Hansen, who throws and bats right-handed, had difficulty with a back injury earlier this summer. “They found out that my vertebrae has actually shifted a little bit so it’s pinching my muscle,” he said. “They stretched me out and I guess they popped it back into place.”

The back trouble didn’t help Hansen’s numbers with the Tomcats. He batted .077 (3 for 39) during the regular season with two runs batted in. As a pitcher, he went 1-2 with a 13.50 earned run average. In the nine and one-third innings he pitched, he issued 10 walks against nine strikeouts.

Of course, the other side to this is the quality of the competition he faced in the ACBL, which draws college players from various parts of the country.

“Playing in this league, it’s a little overwhelming at first,” said Hansen. He added: “Really, when I came here, I just wanted to get the experience. I wanted to play against good competition. Even if I did poorly, either way it’s a good experience. It is summer ball. It really doesn’t mean much. It’s just about getting better. It’s what the league is about, developing players.”

Riverhead coach Randy Caden said Hansen has the size and strength to be a good player. “I think he has the ability, he just doesn’t believe in himself yet,” Caden said. “It’s a confidence thing with him. … He’s never played on this level, as most kids haven’t. It’s a new challenge. I try to tell him, ‘It will come; it will come.’ But that’s the thing, as you go up, the competition gets tougher.”

Hansen was in for a surprise this past college season at Suffolk when he was asked to play third base, a position he had little experience at, to fill a team need. He also pitched for the Sharks. Hansen, whose father Brian coached the North Fork Ospreys last year, said he would like to play for a four-year school after completing his sophomore year at Suffolk.

While Hansen may like to reminisce about his high school playing days occasionally, he knows they are done and over with.

“In high school I could throw a fastball right down the middle and usually two out of three times they’re not going to hit it,” he said, “but if I throw one down here, someone’s going to take it out of the park easily.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

08/02/12 8:10pm
08/02/2012 8:10 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Bryan Palermo of Riverhead rocked a single off the pitcher’s mound in the second inning.

HAMPTON DIVISION FINALS, GAME 2 | BREAKERS 12, TOMCATS 4

In the quirky world of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League postseason, where up can be down and down can be up, playoff seedings don’t count for a heck of a lot these days. The top two seeds in the Hampton Division (the Shelter Island Bucks and the North Fork Ospreys), for example, didn’t make it out of the division semifinals.

Nonetheless, there have been a couple of constants. For one thing, it remains a hitters’ league, particularly late in the regular season when pitching staffs start running short on arms. Also, it’s still safe to say that the team that gets hot at the right time often wins.

Meet the hot Southampton Breakers, the 2012 Hampton Division champions.

The third-seeded Breakers became well-deserved owners of that title Thursday evening when they turned in a 12-4 shellacking of the No. 4 Riverhead Tomcats to take the series in two games. It is the first division championship for the Breakers since the team’s inaugural season in 2009.

“We really felt like we were the best team,” Breakers right fielder Brenton Allen said. “Honestly, we felt that from day one, that we were the best team in this league no matter if we were losing games or winning games, and I felt like this was a chance for us to show it, to prove it. The best team won it.”

The Breakers will face an unknown opponent in a league semifinal on Saturday for the right to play for the league title on Sunday.

Second baseman Jon Testani spearheaded Southampton’s 15-hit attack with four hits and four runs batted in. He homered for the Breakers as did Allen (3 for 5, three runs batted in) and Rob Fonseca.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Former Riverhead High School pitcher Steve Kimmelman started for the Tomcats.

The Breakers posted multi-run innings in five of the nine innings. They assumed a 4-0 lead by the second inning and never trailed, although the Tomcats did pull as close as within 5-4 in the fifth after Josh Mason smashed a run-scoring single. Then the Breakers put up three runs in the sixth, two in the seventh and two in the eighth.

Game over. Series over.

Offense has been the keyword this season, with all sorts of Hampton Division batting records being set. Among them was a new regular-season mark for home runs: 12 by Mason.

“I thought there was a lot more hitting this year,” said Riverhead coach Randy Caden, whose team played in the division finals for the second time in three years. “There was a lot of offense this year. There was less low-scoring games than high-scoring games.”

The Breakers continued the trend on Thursday, putting up 12 runs worth of scoring, as if they needed them all with Anthony Eichhorn on the mound. Over five innings, the right-hander gave up four runs (three were earned), six hits and two walks. He had four strikeouts in gaining the win.

The Breakers have been as hot as the weather, ever since the final days of the regular season. And it hasn’t all been hitting, either. Prior to Thursday’s game, Southampton had not given up an earned run in the playoffs.

“I knew the whole year that they were going to be good because I knew their pitching staff was unbelievable,” said Joe Forney, who delivered a two-run homer for the Tomcats. “They’re really deep. Once their hitting came around, they were playing great.”

Testani said, “Baseball-wise, everything’s been clicking, from pitching, hitting, fielding.”

The Breakers won the first game of the series, 6-2, in Southampton on Wednesday as Robb Scott produced five RBI. He had another one on Thursday.

“Every team in the league here was a good team and anyone could have won it, but we got hot at the right time,” said Breakers coach Rob Cafiero, who was presented with the division championship trophy by Westhampton Aviators general manager Henry Bramwell. The Aviators were last year’s division champs.

Thursday’s series clincher featured a couple of unusual — and controversial — plays. In the fifth inning, James Luppens powered a fly ball that Allen caught before toppling over the right-field fence, with the ball in his glove. One of the white caps on top of the fence fell to the ground about the same time as Allen did. With confusion over whether Allen had dropped the ball or not, Luppens was at first awarded a two-run homer. But after Cafiero argued the call, the umpires conferred and reversed the ruling, calling Luppens out and taking away the two runs in question.

Afterward, Allen said he didn’t drop the ball. “I can say that completely honestly,” he said.

Then, with Southampton batting in the seventh, Allen was involved in another debatable call — this time as a batter. With runners on second and third, Allen struck a soft liner that second baseman Bryan Palermo appeared to nab before it struck the ground. Both runners took off upon contact, and Palermo tossed the ball to the shortstop, Mason, covering second base for a double play. Once again, the umpires met and talked. This time, though, the original call stood.

For the Tomcats, the loss marked the end of an intense season that saw them play 44 games in 61 days.

“It’s fun, man, because for me, especially, I didn’t get to play that much on my school ball team my freshman year [at Xavier], so coming out here and just playing every day was exactly what I needed to get back in my groove,” Forney said. “I enjoyed my time in the Hamptons.”

As for playoff seedings, throw them out — at least as far as this year is concerned.

bliepa@timesreview.com

08/01/12 4:00pm
08/01/2012 4:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Tomcats first baseman Jimmy Luppens, a Shoreham-Wading River graduate.

The Riverhead Tomcats dropped Game One of their best-of-three series with the Southampton Breakers 6-2 Wednesday.

The series will decide who wins the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball Division championship.

You can read a recap on the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball Division’s GameChanger page.

07/30/12 10:45pm
07/30/2012 10:45 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead Tomcats first baseman Jimmy Luppens went 4-for-5 in Game 1 Monday.

In unison, the fans lining the field at Shelter Island High School rose to a crescendo, clapping and cheering their Bucks as they began the bottom of the ninth inning Monday.

Trailing by three runs, their season on the line, the Bucks needed a miraculous inning to extend their inaugural season. As much as the players wanted to keep their season alive, so to did the fans who passionately supported them all summer.

As the bottom of the ninth began, the fans could sense the end was near. No one wanted to see it come.

Except for the Riverhead Tomcats.

The No. 4 seed in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball playoffs, the Tomcats knocked off the top-seeded Bucks by sweeping a doubleheader in front of a big crowd on Shelter Island. The Tomcats won the first game 8-6 and clinched the first-round playoff series with a 5-3 victory in Game 2.

After more than six hours of baseball, the Tomcats punched their ticket to the finals of the HCB playoffs, where they’ll face either North Fork or Southampton. The teams split a doubleheader Monday. North Fork, after losing the first game, won with a walk-off home run in extra innings of Game 2.

“We battle,” said Riverhead coach Randy Caden. “These guys don’t give up. They battle. We don’t hit much, but we hit when we’re supposed to.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead Tomcats pitcher Matt Facendo won Game 1 by throwing the final 4 2/3 innings.

The Tomcats, despite some sloppiness early in the first game, outplayed Shelter Island throughout both games. They picked up clutch hits, got strong pitching and withstood the loss of their starting catcher midway through the first game.

Shelter Island finished its season with a 23-19 overall record.

“It was a good run,” said Shelter Island coach Joe Burke. “We didn’t play well in the playoffs. Hopefully we have another shot at it next year and we play a little better.”

The Tomcats (23-19) jumped ahead early in both games. They scored five runs in the first two innings of Game 1 and four runs through the first three innings of Game 2.

“Once you get runs the first inning, they’re always trying to get back at you,” said Riverhead shortstop Alec Sole, who’s often greeted before his at-bats with a chant of “hip-hip! Sole!.” “It’s a lot harder for them.”

Sole had a big day at the plate in both games. In Game 2 he was 3-for-4 with two doubles and a walk. He hit an RBI single in the second inning that made it 3-1 Riverhead.

One of the tricky parts about playing in the league, Sole said, is adjusting to different bats. The wooden bats often break, and with the season near the end, the inventory is shrinking. He began the day using a 33-ounce bat, only to switch to a 32-ounce bat later in the day after his first bat broke. He said he’s still not sure which bat he really prefers.

“I’ve been hitting really good with the 32,” he said. “I’m trying to figure that out.”

Either way, it worked out nicely for Sole. He was 1-for-3 with two runs in the first game and he walked twice.

The Tomcats lost catcher Jordan Parris in the first game when he got hit in the throat with a ball that bounced up off the ground in front of him. Parris was taken by ambulance to the hospital for precautionary reasons.

Caden said that Parris was doing OK.

Eric Weiner, who only joined the team a few weeks ago, came in to play catcher and did a superb job behind the plate. He walked and scored a run in Game 2 and also had a single. Behind the plate, he threw out two runners attempting to steal. The Tomcats will need him going forward, because Monday was set to be Parris’ last day with the team, even before he got injured.

“He’s a good hustler,” Caden said of Weiner. “He made some great plays today.”

Jonathan Cohen started Game 2 for Riverhead and threw six innings to earn the victory. He gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits and struck out four.

Collin McEnery pitched the final three innings, giving up just one unearned run in the ninth.

“They did a phenomenal job,” Sole said. “Couldn’t have asked for more.”

Cohen got into trouble in the fifth inning with the Tomcats leading 4-2. The Bucks loaded the bases with one out. But Cohen struck out Vin Guglietti on three pitches and then got Scott Donaghue to fly out to deep center to end the inning.

Caden said Cohen was at 104 pitches after six innings when he decided to take him out.

“I’ve been going with my gut lately with pitching,” Caden said. “I’ve been lucky going with gut.”

Zack Hopf started Game 1 and threw 4 1/3 innings, giving up five runs (three earned). He struck out seven.

“I took out Hopf before he could win the game because he had thrown a lot the last outing,” Caden said. “He was at 98 pitches and these guys are too valuable to hurt.”

Caden called on Matt Facendo to close out the game and he pitched the final 4 2/3 to earn the win. Facendo gave up one run and struck out four.

The Bucks, meanwhile, couldn’t match Riverhead on the mound.

“We did not pitch well,” Burke said. “We gave up 14 runs in two games. We didn’t have the starting pitching and defense.”

joew@timesreview.com

07/29/12 8:00pm
07/29/2012 8:00 PM

GRANT PARPAN FILE PHOTO | The Shelter Island Bucks host the Riverhead Tomcats at Fiske Memorial FIeld when the playoffs begin at 1 p.m. Monday.

The Shelter Island Bucks will host a semifinals doubleheader against the Riverhead Tomcats as the postseason opens in the Hampton Collegiate Baseball Division Monday.

First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Fiske Memorial Field.

The Bucks enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in just their first year. They finished the regular season with a 23-17 record.

Riverhead, the No. 4 seed, went 21-19, just two games back in the tight division. The Tomcats won four of seven games against the Bucks during the regular season.

Monday’s doubleheader is part of a best-of-three series. If the two teams split on Monday they play in Riverhead Tuesday.

The North Fork Ospreys (22-17) host the Southampton Breakers (21-18) in the other semifinals doubleheader Monday. First pitch in that series is set for 4:30 p.m. at Cochran Park in Peconic.

gparpan@timesreview.com

07/29/12 12:01am

GRANT PARPAN FILE PHOTO | Shelter Island pitcher Pat Simone. Riverhead may play the Bucks in the playoffs Monday, but the Tomcats need help.

All the Shelter Island Bucks know for sure is that their first series in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball playoffs will begin Monday.

And even those plans can be altered by Mother Nature.

As for who the Bucks will play, that won’t be determined until Sunday night. What the first-place Bucks do know now is they’ll play either Southampton, Center Moriches or Riverhead.

The No. 2 North Fork Ospreys will play either Southampton or Center Moriches.

Both North Fork and Shelter Island will be home when the best-of-three series’ begin with doubleheaders Monday. If a game three is needed in either series it will be played on the other team’s field Tuesday.

The Hampton Division championship is still slated to be held Wednesday through Friday, with the ACBL semifinal and final scheduled for the weekend.

The playoff scenarios won’t be decided until after North Fork plays Southampton at 5 p.m. Sunday. Center Moriches plays Westhampton at 11 a.m. in the other big game Sunday.

The Riverhead Tomcats need for Southampton to win and Center Moriches to lose.

Here are the scenarios that hinge on Sunday’s results, according to a post on the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball website:

Southampton win, Center Moriches win
#3 Southampton v. #2 North Fork
#4 Center Moriches v. #1 Shelter Island

Southampton win, Center Moriches loss
#3 Southampton v. #2 North Fork
#4 Riverhead v. #1 Shelter Island

Southampton loss, Center Moriches win
#3 Center Moriches v. #2 North Fork
#4 Southampton v. #1 Shelter Island

gparpan@timesreview.com