Sharks host FCBL semifinal opener Sunday

Sharks starter Trevor Breton deals to the plate in the fifth inning Tuesday night at the Tank against Nashua. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

The third season has been the charm for the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks, who clinched their first ever Futures Collegiate Baseball League playoff berth last week.

The local entry in the wooden bat summer league will finish either first or second and host game one of the best of three FCBL semifinals Sunday night, August 11, at the Tank in Oak Bluffs. The first pitch is set for 7 pm. Game two of the semifinals will be Monday night, with the venue as yet undecided. The Sharks may host back-to-back games or games one and three (if necessary). Should the semis be tied at one game each, the decisive third game will be played Tuesday night. The best of three FCBL championship series will be played August 14–16, beginning at the field of the highest seeded team.

The Sharks’ playoff opponent has yet to be decided. Heading into Wednesday night’s home game against Brockton, the Sharks (33-17) held a one-game lead over the Nashua Silver Knights (32-18). Both teams are assured of a top two finish. The top seed will play the winner of a play-in game between the fourth and fifth seeds, held Sunday afternoon at 3 pm, either in Oak Bluffs or Nashua, N.H. The second seed will host the winner of the play-in game between seeds three and six. Check for details on the playoff schedule.

Tuesday night in front of a passionate announced crowd of 1,228 at the Tank, the Sharks greatly helped their cause with a 3-1 win over Nashua, their fifth win in six games against the two-time defending champions.

The league leaders played out a classic pitchers duel. Trevor Breton of Western New England University got the start for the Sharks against Nashua’s Tim Cashman of Merrimack College.

Cashman was good, allowing one run on five hits, while striking out three and walking two in six innings. But Breton was better, ceding no runs and three hits, with three K’s and three walks through seven.

The Sharks broke a scoreless tie in the sixth when Brett Holmgren singled between third and short to score Nik Campero. Davidson Peguero had a chance to make it 2-0 but slipped coming around third and got caught in a rundown to end the inning.

After a scoreless seventh inning, Sharks reliever Jon Dunn replaced Trevor Breton to start the eighth and walked Matt Sanchez. Dunn recorded two outs before giving way to Matt Calamoneri. The righty from the University of Scranton was greeted by a Jimmy Recoy single, scoring UMass Lowell teammate Sanchez to tie the score at 1-1. Calamoneri then struck out former Shark Karl Kapinos, assisted by a 2-3 putout, to end the inning.

The Sharks regained the lead in the bottom half of the eighth with two runs on five hits. Dylan Tice led off with a laser to third that handcuffed Bryan Toland. Nik Campero then hit a 3-2 pitch for another single. Donnie Cimino advanced both runners with a perfect bunt down the first base line. Davidson Peguero put the Sharks in front 2-1 with a looping single to left center. Chris Miller made the score 3-1 by smoking a single to left, scoring Nik Campero. The Sharks were denied a 4-1 lead when right fielder Jimmy Recoy fired a perfect strike to the plate to nab pinch runner Kevin Foley.

Nashua led off the ninth with an E.J. Martinez single to right. Matt Calamoneri countered with some truly nasty, bending stuff to stop the threat and earn the win. He struck out Bryan Toland, forced Manny Cabral to pop up to first, and closed the game by fanning Gabriel Hernandez on three straight strikes.

The Sharks can clinch the FCBL top seed by winning their remaining three games on Wednesday (7 pm at home), Thursday, and Saturday (7 pm at home), all against Brockton. Due to weather earlier in the season, the Sharks will play only 53 regular season games, while Nashua plays the full 54 with an extra chance to claim first place.