Hamptons Collegiate Baseball's regular season begins in early June and concludes with the HCBL playoffs in early August. For the playoffs between 2008-2012 during the HCBL's affiliation with the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, the winner of the HCBL played the Kaiser and/or Wolff Division winner for the ACBL championship.
Center Moriches Battlecats: 2012-2013
Modeling itself after the Cape Cod Baseball League, Hamptons Collegiate Baseball was founded in 2007 by longtime Montauk resident Rusty Leaver, former owner and operator of Deep Hollow Ranch in Montauk, New York.
2008 - Initially, the organization had one franchise—the Hampton Whalers—who in their first season of play won the Kaiser Division title before falling to the Kutztown Rockies, 8-2, in the ACBL championship game on August 9. This came after the Whalers started their season with an 0-6 record only to win eight of their last nine and finish 19-21. That left them in a tie with the Peekskill Robins, against which Hampton owned the tiebreaker, thus setting up the division championship against the Metro New York Cadets. With the winner going on to the title game, the Whalers plated two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to win 2-1.
The individual accolades were in great number. Phil Klein, a sophomore at Youngstown State University, not only lead the ACBL in earned run average by posting a 1.02 ERA but also threw the first perfect game in league history, setting down all 21 hitters in a 7-0 victory over Metro N.Y. on July 13, 2008. Additionally, left-hander Andrew Guarrasi of New York Tech finished fourth in ERA (1.70) and second in strikeouts (57). At the plate, Alan Parks of UNC-Charlotte stole 22 bags to rank third in the league; more impressively, he did so in 22 attempts.
2009 - In 2009, Hamptons Collegiate Baseball welcomed four new franchises to compete in the Kaiser Division. Led by head coach Shawn Epidendio of Santa Clara University, the North Fork Ospreys won the regular season title with a mark of 25-15, a game ahead of second-place Southampton, which was coached by Andrew Lorraine. North Fork prevailed over Riverhead in one semifinal, and Westhampton blanked Southampton in the other to set up the best-of-three division championship series. The Ospreys took game one on an eighth-inning go-ahead home run by Adam Clear (University of San Francisco), but Westhampton forced a decisive third game by routing host North Fork in game two behind ace Alex Pracher (Stanford University). In the third game, Westhampton broke open a tight game late to reel in the division title. Mike Mandarino (Camden County College) struck out nine to earn the victory.
Westhampton went on to play the Jersey Pilots, who won the Wolff Division championship. After the Pilots socked back-to-back-to-back homers in the first inning, the Aviators crawled back into the game and earned a 7-5 victory. Alex Aycoth (Campbell University) went 3 for 3 in the title game and batted .556 in five postseason games (10 for 18). Ray Courtney (Fairleigh Dickinson) picked up the win with 3 1⁄3 innings of scoreless relief and Pracher struck out the side in the ninth to clinch the championship.
Postseason awards were given out en masse to Riverhead RHP Nick Tropeano (Stony Brook University) and 1B Peter Greskoff (Brown University). Tropeano won the pitching triple crown by leading the league in wins (7), strikeouts (77) and earned run average (1.61) and thus was named the ACBL Pitcher of the Year. Greskoff hit .397 with 10 homers and 37 RBI to be named Co-Player of the Year along with the Pilots' Ken Gregory (Kean University). Greskoff was also selected as a Co-National Player of the Year by SummerCollegeLeagues.com, sharing the honor with Drew Heid of Gonzaga University.
2010 - Four new managers took over, with Epidendio the remaining carryover from the 2009 season. Rob Cafiero, a standout at Villanova University and former Philadelphia Phillies farmhand, took the reins in Southampton, while Jim Buckley, who played for Siena College and in the Boston Red Sox farm system, managed the Sag Harbor squad. Elsewhere, St. John's University assistant Jeff Quiros was appointed the Westhampton post, and Saint Joseph's College (New York) head coach Randy Caden was named the Riverhead manager.
Under Epidendio, North Fork ran away with the 2010 regular season title, posting an HCB record 27 wins to win the division by five games. Billy Ferriter University of Connecticut led all Hamptons hitters with a .373 average, and the middle-of-the-order production came from Sebastian Grazziani New York Institute of Technology, who belted five homers and drove in 31.
In the first round of the playoffs, third-seeded Riverhead went on the road and beat No. 2 Westhampton, while North Fork held off No. 4 Southampton. The Ospreys and Tomcats met in a best-of-three championship series, and after North Fork won game one, 10-3, Riverhead forced a decisive third game on a walk-off homer by Matt Fleishman (Villanova University) in the 10th inning of game two. The Ospreys proved to be too tough in the rubber match, riding 6 2⁄3 outstanding innings by starter Robert Kelly (Saint Anselm College).
North Fork met the Quakertown Blazers in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League championship game. Back-to-back homers by Rocco Gondek (Sacred Heart University) and David Jacob (Monmouth University) were part of a four-run third inning that erased a 1-0 deficit. Aaron Snyder (Southern Illinois University) and two other pitchers staked closer Lee Weld (Southern Illinois University) to a 5-2 advantage in the ninth. The Blazers crossed two in the inning, but a groundout to Grazziani gave the Ospreys their first ACBL title and HCB's second league championship in as many years.
Southampton's Mike Mandarino (Broward College) was named the Darrin Winston Most Valuable Pitcher Award, going 4-3 with an 0.83 ERA. He also led the Breakers in batting average (.303), home runs (7) and RBI (16). Westhampton closer D.J. Voisine (University of Maine) shared the Outstanding Relief Pitcher of the Year award, setting an HCB record with seven saves.
Early in the season, the organization had its first alum taken in the Major League Baseball Draft. Steve McQuail ((Canisius College)), one of the original Hampton Whalers, was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 30th round. Ten rounds later, Justin Echevarria (Stony Brook University) was picked by the San Diego Padres. Shortly after the draft concluded, Peter Budkevics of C. W. Post signed a free agent deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
2012 - The Hampton Division took another gigantic step during the offseason, welcoming the Center Moriches Battlecats and Shelter Island Bucks to the fold, becoming a seven-team division. The Battlecats, led by president Anthony Eaderesto, general manager Ed Morris and manager Bill Batewell, began play at Paul Gibson Field, while the Bucks, headed by general manager Cori Cass and manager Joe Burke played to outstanding crowds at the high school.
Like in 2011, parity reigned, with the top five teams being separated by three games. It wasn't until the final day of the regular that the four-team playoff field was set. Shelter Island took home its first regular-season crown, and they were followed by North Fork, Southampton and Riverhead. Center Moriches dropped its final game against Westhampton to come up one game short.
Riverhead upset top-seeded Shelter Island by sweeping a doubleheader on the road, while Southampton was able to outlast North Fork in the other semifinal, winning a decisive game three behind starter Patrick Peterson (Temple). In the finals, Southampton took the series 2-0 behind its potent offense. Robb Scott (Bucknell) drove in five of the team's runs in its 6-2 victory in game one. Back in Riverhead for game two, the Breakers banged out 16 hits, including three homers, to roll to a 12-4 victory. The division title was Southampton's first in four seasons; the prior three, they'd lost in the semifinal round, twice to the eventual ACBL champion.
The Breakers threw their ace, Paul Paez (Rio Hondo JC), in the league semifinal against North Jersey, but the Eagles chipped away against Southampton, winning 4-3 at SBU Southampton. North Jersey went on to win its first-ever ACBL championship the next day against the New York Atlantics.
It was a record-setting season at the plate as four teams surpassed the 2009 Westhampton squad's mark for runs in a season. Shelter Island led the way with 270, riding its catalyst, Thomas Roulis (Dartmouth), who set the single-season record for runs scored with 41. Individually, the story was Center Moriches catcher Joe Solomeno, who rose to the top of the charts in single-season batting average (.421), hits (61) and RBI (53). Scott, meanwhile, climbed to the No. 1 spot in six all-time offensive categories, including runs (61), hits (109), doubles (26) and walks (40).
On the mound, Paez more or less mirrored the efforts of 2009 Tomcat Nick Tropeano, surpassing him in strikeouts (82) while matching him single-season victories (7). The Center Moriches trio of Brendan Butler (Fairleigh Dickinson), Anthony Gatto (UMBC) and John Maloney (High Point) also threw the fourth no-hitter in HCB history, holding Shelter Island hitless on June 5.
2013 - The 2013 season saw a new beginning for Hamptons Collegiate Baseball as it began its first season as an independent operation. The seven existing HCB teams broke away from the ACBL to start the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League. The brand new league didn't change any of the fun and excitement that people in the Hamptons have expected over the last several years.
The Sag Harbor Whalers and Westhampton Aviators were engaged in a tight battle for the No. 1 seed. Sag Harbor clinched home-field advantage in the playoffs defeating Westhampton at Aviator Field on the regular season's final day. The North Fork Ospreys got the No. 3 seed, the Ospreys who were 10-16 on July 7 won 12 of their final 14 games down the stretch to finish at 22-18. Center Moriches took the No. 4 seed fending off Riverhead and Shelter Island for the last playoff spot at 21-19.
Both semifinal playoff rounds provided some great moments. Sag Harbor and Center Moriches were engaged in two tightly contested extra inning contests. Game 1 was scoreless for 12 innings, until the Battlecats scored three runs off Sag Harbor closer Jacob Bodner (Xavier) for a 3-0 win the 13th inning. Game 2 was tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the 10th when Zach Persky (Rollins) drove home the winning run for the Battlecats to upset the Whalers and advance Center Moriches to the HCBL Championship.
In the other semifinal, Westhampton and North Fork went the maximum three games. Game 1 saw a classic pitcher's duel between North Fork's David Jesch (Hofstra) and Westhampton's Preston Brown (Mississippi State). Game 1 in the series was decided early by an unearned run in favor of the Ospreys in the 1st who took a 1-0 victory. Westhampton evened the series at 1-1 on the strength of three hits and four RBI from the bat of Cole Miller (Georgia Tech) in a 4-2 Aviators victory. The third and deciding game saw both teams deadlocked at 2-2 through 11 innings. In the 12th inning, Ryan Solberg (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) drove home the deciding run for the Ospreys as North Fork advanced to its fourth HCBL Championship Series in five years.
In the Championship Series between North Fork and Center Moriches, the Ospreys struck the first blow. Led by a six-RBI performance from Mike Hayden (Saint Anselm), North Fork would take Game 1 by a final score of 12-5. In Game 2, Center Moriches took control scoring five runs in the 5th inning. The highlight of the Battlecats' big inning came from a three-run home run off the bat of Paschal Petrongolo (Jacksonville State).
In the final game of the series North Fork got the first run early on an error that scored Nick Heath (Northwestern State). The score stood at 1-0 until the 8th when the Battlecats tied the score, Center Moriches had the bases loaded but a double play got the Ospreys out of a jam to keep the game tied at 1-1. In the Bottom of the 8th, Nick Heath (Northwestern State) delivered a two-out single. After stealing second, Heath later scored on a double from Austin Miller (Butler) to give the Ospreys a 2-1 lead. Center Moriches would put the tying run at third in the ninth, but North Fork would hold on to take their second HCBL Championship in four seasons. Appropriately it was the Championship Series MVP, Heath, who caught the last out. Heath earned MVP honors by going 5 for 11 with five runs scored, three stolen bases and two RBI.
The first-ever HCBL MVP award went to Westhampton's JC Brandmaier (Dowling). Brandmaier was the standout player in the HCBL leading the league in batting average (.375) with 54 hits along with six home runs and 29 RBI.
HCBL fans also witnessed outstanding speed on the basepaths from two talented players – Heath and Riverhead's Jack Sundberg (Connecticut) who each stole 35 bases in the 2013 season. Sundberg had 35 steals in 42 attempts for the Tomcats while batting .318 and was sixth in the league in hits with 42. Heath, the number one prospect in the HCBL according to Baseball America and Perfect Game USA, had 34 SB's in 39 attempts, batting .326 with a pair of homers and 17 RBI.
In Sag Harbor, a pair of talented pitchers were key to the Whalers finishing in first place during the regular season. Jonathon Mulford (Adelphi) went a perfect 6-0 in nine appearances for the Whalers with a 1.53 ERA in 53.1 innings pitched. Mulford struck out 26 batters while walking only six. Mulford would take home the HCBL pitcher of the year award at season's end for his mastery on the mound. Meanwhile, Bodner provided frustration for many HCBL batters. In 18 appearances, he broke the HCBL single-season saves record with 14. Bodner's 2013 season was made more impressive by virtue of not allowing a single earned run during the regular season.
It was a successful year for HCBL alumni as 20 past HCBL players were selected in the 2013 MLB Draft. Among some of the notables taken in the early rounds were Stuart Turner (3rd Round/Southampton '11), Jordan Patterson (4th Round/Westhampton '11), Aaron Slegers (5th Round/Riverhead '11) and Kyle McGowin (5th Round/Sag Harbor ’11, ’12).
Mid-season, a massive crowd turned out to North Fork's Cochran Park in Mid-July for the Inaugural HCBL All-Star Game. The North HCBL All-Stars picked up a 4-1 win over the South as Joe Burns (St. John's) of Shelter Island took home MVP accolades.
2008 – Hampton Whalers
2009 – Westhampton Aviators
2010 – North Fork Ospreys
2011 – Westhampton Aviators
2012 – Southampton Breakers
2013 – North Fork Ospreys
2014 – Southampton Breakers
2015 - Shelter Island Bucks
2016 – Westhampton Aviators
2009 – Westhampton Aviators
2010 – North Fork Ospreys
Bold = reached major leagues