The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks and Mystic Schooners closed out their New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) regular-season schedules with an epic, wild game at the Shark Tank Thursday night in Oak Bluffs. After more than three hours, 28 runs, 29 hits, and 10 pitchers, the game turned on a balk and a Bock.
The balk gave Mystic one run. The Bock gave the Sharks four.
In the top of the eighth inning, with the bases loaded and the score tied 9-9, Sharks closer Nate Tellier was called for a balk, and Steve Barmakian crossed the plate to give the Schooners a 10-9 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, with the bases loaded and the score tied 10-10 following an error by the Mystic shortstop, Sharks first baseman Conner Bock stepped up to the plate and drilled a laser over the centerfield wall for a grand slam, to give the Sharks a 14-10 lead.
That run would be the game winner.
Before the eighth inning was over, Collin Shapiro scored another Sharks run on a wild pitch to make it 15-10, but in the top of the ninth, Mystic’s Terry Bowens jacked the ball out of the Shark Tank with two men on base for his second home run of the game, closing the gap to 15-13 and making things a wee bit uncomfortable for the home folks. Uncomfortable, until Tellier turned up the heat and fanned Ben Maycock to earn his second win of the season and send those remaining from the overflow crowd home happy.
The evening began with the Sharks honoring their host families and a terrific job on the Star-Spangled Banner by 9-year-old Owen Silvia.
After a scoreless first inning, the game came to life in the second. Mystic put three runs on the board, but the Sharks countered with four. Brady Slavens doubled to get the rally started, Collin Shapiro singled to score Slavens, Matt Chamberlain doubled, Nick Raposo doubled to score two runs, and Jackson Raper put the Sharks in front with an RBI single.
Mystic scored the next six runs; one in the fourth, three in the fifth and two in the sixth; to lead, 9-4. Again, the Sharks answered quickly with five runs in the seventh. After Matt Chamberlain scored the first run on a wild pitch, Nander De Sedas came up with the bases loaded and just missed a grand slam, wide right of the foul pole. On the next pitch, he settled, instead, for a two-run, broken-bat single over the shortstop. With the bases loaded for the third time in the inning, Rudy Aguilar doubled to tie the game.
In the midst of the crazy eighth inning, Sharks pitcher Jack Sheehan picked up a bat as the DH, walked to the plate, and whacked a 1-2 pitch into center for a base hit, bringing a thunderous cheer from the Sharks dugout and bullpen. When Sheehan walked back toward the pen at inning’s end, he received a standing ovation from his pitching brethren.
The Sharks (27-15) came into the game having already clinched the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) Southern Division title and the league’s best record by defeating the Ocean State Waves on Wednesday. They will open the best-of-three division finals Sunday night at the Shark Tank at 7 pm against the winner of the wildcard game between Mystic and the Newport Gulls.