The pennant-winning, record-setting MV Sharks face elimination from the Futures Collegiate Baseball League (FCBL) playoffs tonight after a 7-5 loss to the Brockton Rox Tuesday night at the Shark Tank in Oak Bluffs.
The playoffs are a best-of-three series, and the Sharks, now down one game, need a win Wednesday night to bring the series back to the Tank on Thursday night for the series finale. A packed house was grooving early on Tuesday night as their faves took an early 3-0 lead behind four one-hit, no-walk innings from lefty starter Bryan Ketchie and a two-run third-inning bomb by first baseman Tyler Wincig, his seventh homer of the season.
The Rox began began chipping away with one run in the sixth, adding two in the eighth to tie it at 3-3, ending the evening for Ketchie. The Sharks untied it in the bottom of the inning on a single by second baseman Tate Kolwyck, scoring Kellen Hatheway, who had singled earlier in the inning.
It all went bad for the Sharks in the ninth as the Rox scored four times on four hits, including two doubles, and benefitting from an errant outfield throw that scored the fourth run, a scoring explosion that let the air out of the ballpark.
Down 7-4 in the bottom of the ninth, the Sharks started fast with a double by Nick Raposo and a single by Collin Shapiro. Raposo scored on a balk to make it 7-5 before Matt Oldham’s potential game-tying blast was run down near the fence in right field to end it.
The game was a gem for seven innings, with super defense on both sides, the Sharks turning three double plays and getting several highlight plays from middle infielders Kolwyck and Hathaway. It was also an odd game, in that the Sharks scored on a balk and Rox first baseman Matt Ronai was ejected for arguing ball and strikes, a rare event in the FCBL.
Asked about his ejection, Ronai (brother of Shark Brian Ronai) said, “I have never been ejected for anything, ever, in sports. I didn’t swear. I just said, ‘No way,’ and he tossed me.” An ejection also carries a one-game suspension, not to mention the ribbing he agreed he’ll likely get from his brother. So Matt Ronai will not play or be allowed in the dugout for tonight’s game
Sharks fans were feeling pretty good Tuesday night. Their team set a franchise record with 36 regular-season wins, and won the pennant and two Sharks received honors from the pro baseball scouts who follow the league. Chance Huff was named the top pitching prospect in the FCBL, and outfielder Matt Chamberlain was named the league’s best defensive player.
But as Yogi Berra observed, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” The Sharks need to win Wednesday night at Brockton, and if they do, to win again on Thursday night at the Tank to continue their storybook season.