Sharks sink Schooners, move into first place

MV bangs out 15 hits to win ninth straight.

The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks extended their winning streak to nine games and took over sole possession of first place in the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) Southern Division with a 9-5 victory over the Mystic Schooners, Wednesday night at the Shark Tank in Oak Bluffs.

The teams came into the contest tied for the division lead with 16-9 records. 

The Sharks drew first blood with one run in the first on a Jackson Raper single, but Mystic countered in the top of the second with a double, two singles, a wild pitch, and an error to score three. The lead would be short-lived, and their last of the evening. 

The Sharks evened the score in the bottom of the third. Raper singled past second base to score Matt Chamberlain for his second RBI, and Alan Burnsed tied the game on an error by the shortstop.

In the top of the fourth, Sharks shortstop Brady Slavens retired the Schooners in style by snaring a sharp liner and doubling off the runner at first. 

With bats in hand, the Sharks went about taking the lead for good in the home half of the fourth. Josh Spiegel led off with a single to center, Kai Nelson ripped another down the third base line, and Matt Chamberlain lined a triple to the gap in right-center to put the Sharks ahead, 5-3. If not for Vincent Martin’s great catch on a Jackson Raper rip to right, the hosts would have had more on the board.

Nander De Sedas put the Sharks up 6-3 in the fifth by singling in Rudy Aguilar, who led off with a double.

With the Sharks still up by three entering the seventh, starter and winning pitcher Daniel Hegarty exited for Hunter Harris, after conceding three earned runs on six hits, with five Ks and two walks. Mystic got a run back on a hard-hit grounder to first, but Harris chalked up a big K on Schooners slugger Terry Bowens to end the inning.

The Sharks threatened in the bottom of the seventh, but Mystic second baseman Justus Burke made the catch of the night, robbing Matt Chamberlain with a leaping, tumbling grab.

Up 6-4 in the eighth inning, the Sharks got much-needed breathing room. Alan Burnsed crushed a leadoff homer to left, Jackson Raper reached base on an E6, Brady Slavens doubled off the wall in centerfield, and Nick Oar hit a two-RBI chopper up the middle before being tagged out at second. Josh Spiegel got the Sharks 15th hit of the night with a standup double, but the inning ended with MV ahead, 9-4.

Things got a bit nerve-wracking for the locals in the ninth inning. Pitcher Jackson Vescelus, who started off with a big pair of strikeouts in the eighth, got into a spot of trouble with a hit batter and three walks, but sidearmer Marc Mendel, facing the tying run at the plate, fanned Matthew Toke and Jerome Huntzinger hit a deep fly out to Matt Chamberlain to end the game.

The Sharks will go for their 10th straight win tonight (7 pm) at the Tank against the Newport Gulls.