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August 07, 2013

Surprise! Ospreys Take HCBL Title



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It was a topsy-turvy season. One by one, the teams moved into first place, stamping themselves as title contenders.

When the smoke cleared after the final game, there was one team left standing in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League – the North Fork Ospreys. And that's why you have to play the games – the Ospreys were in last place a month ago, seemingly dead in the water – and then they caught fire.

Sunday night in Peconic, in front of a raucous crowd at Cochran Park, The Ospreys culminated their prolonged rise from the dead by nipping Center Moriches 2-1.

Nick Heath, a legitimate speedster, opened the bottom of the eighth with an infield single and then stole second. Austin Miller stroked a two-out double down the left field line to plate Heath and break a 1-1 tie. David Deliz closed it out for the winners, giving North Fork the 2013 title, its second league crown in four years.

Heath, who plays for Northwestern State, was named the series MVP. All Heath did was hit .455, score five runs, and steal three bases.

Center Moriches did not go down easily. Mike Roehrig worked a one-out walk in the ninth, and advanced all the way to third on a wild pitch and passed ball. However, Deliz battled back to strike out Stefan Trosclair. Zach Persky, the Battlecats hottest hitter, strode to the plate with the season on the line. Deliz induced him to fly out to rightfield, and the celebration began.

Deliz came in an inning earlier after the Battlecats evened the score at one on a single by Matt Hinchy and had the bases loaded with nobody out. Deliz got a strike out for the first out. Shortstop Eric Solberg then turned in the play of the day by making a diving snare of a grounder up the middle and turned it into a double play.

Both starters pitched well enough to win. North Fork's David Jesch threw seven shutout innings, fanning nine. Battlecats righthander Mike O'Reilly didn't give up an earned run over his seven innings, and fanned eight.

Center Moriches had some consolation – the team reached the championship series for the first time in its HCBL tenure. The Battlecats swept top-seed Sag Harbor in the semifinals, and scored a resounding 8-2 win in Game Two Saturday to force the decisive third contest.

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