The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks ended a four-game skid with a pair of road wins against the Ocean State Waves and Valley Blue Sox last Thursday and Friday before returning to the Tank for a three-game home stand, in a busy week of play in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
Saturday night, the Sharks hosted Ocean State and edged the Waves, 2-1.
Nick Hassen put Ocean State ahead with a solo homer in the second inning, but the Sharks tied the game in the fourth after Ryan Hernandez drew a walk and Spencer Bramwell brought him home on an RBI grounder to second.
Hayden McCreary doubled to lead off the Sharks’ sixth, and scored what proved to be the winning run on a wild pitch to Levi Usher. The game ended with Usher’s University of Louisville teammate Trey Leonard robbing Xavier Vargas of a game-tying home run in right field.
Florida State’s Jackson Nezuh started on the hill for the Sharks and pitched four innings, allowing three hits and a run, while striking out seven and walking none. Duke righthander Adam Boucher pitched the fifth and sixth innings and got the win, striking out six more Waves. Gabe Smith and Alex Galvan held Ocean State in check the rest of the way.
The following night, the Sharks rallied from 8-5 down in the seventh inning to beat the Bristol Blues, 10-8.
MV started to chip away at the Bristol lead in the seventh. Drew Grace took a pitch to his person to lead off, and scored on Will Duff’s line-out to center.
The Sharks added four more runs in the eighth. Tommy Seidl drew a leadoff walk, Grant Norris doubled to right, and Drew Grace singled home Seidl, who charged home with a headfirst slide to make it 8-7. Collin Shapiro came up next, and ripped a single between the third baseman and the shortstop to score Norris and tie the game. Matt Woods followed with a walk to load the bases, and Duff hit a sac fly deep to left, scoring Grace for a 9-8 Sharks lead. MV added an insurance run after Shapiro scored from third on a wild pitch.
Winning pitcher Drew Mead closed out three innings of one-hit relief by fanning Nate Vigeant for the final out.
Spencer Bramwell slugged a two-run homer to right in the third inning, and the Sharks hit four doubles on the night, two by Grant Norris, and one each by Trey Leonard and Hayden McGeary.
With their fourth straight win in the books, the Sharks looked to complete the home hat trick against the Newport Gulls on Tuesday night. It was not to be.
The Sharks built a 4-1 lead through four innings, but Newport plated eight runs over the next two innings, and held on for a 9-6 win.
Grant Norris jacked a three-run homer to right-center in the bottom of the second, the Sharks added a run on an error in the third, and Spencer Bramwell went yard for two runs in the ninth to close out the scoring for the hosts.
In a bizarre statistic, the five Sharks pitchers accumulated 12 walks and 13 strikeouts on the night, contending with a strike zone that often drew the ire of team and fans alike.
Virginia Tech lefty Noah Johnson, who earned NECBL Pitcher of the Week honors on June 21, got the start, and pitched through to the first batter in the fifth inning, allowing two hits and three runs to go with three strikeouts and six walks. Tyler Hamilton and Clark Klitenic threw into the sixth inning, Riley Phillips struck out six Gulls in two and a third innings of work, and Oliver McCarthy pitched the ninth.
The loss left the Sharks (11-6) a half-game up on the Gulls atop the Southern Division standings.
The Shark Tank will be a busy place in the coming week. MV hosts Mystic on Thursday at 7 pm, welcomes Ocean State for a July 3 doubleheader, with games starting at 4:05 and 6:35 pm, and plays Danbury on Wednesday at 7 pm.