On June 29, the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks defeated the Ocean State Waves of South Kingstown, R.I., at the Shark Tank by a score of 9 to 2, extending their season-best winning streak to four games as they hold on to their position at the top of the NECBL’s Coastal Division with an overall record of 11-8.
The Sharks have now won seven of their last nine games, seemingly turning the season around after a subpar start. Through the first ten games of the season, the Sharks stood at 4-6, including an embarrassing 17-1 home loss at the hand of the Newport Gulls, in which costly errors and a poor starting pitching performance from Noah Johnson (Virginia Tech University) allowed the Gulls to hit three home runs in the first two innings, and take an early commanding lead of 9-0. At this point, while incredibly early in the season, the Sharks sat at a .500 record, and it did not seem like they would be able to defend their division title from last season, in which they posted the second-best record in the league. There’s still plenty of baseball left to be played, but if they continue with their current form, the Sharks seem poised to return to the playoffs either as the Coastal Division champions or as one of the three wild card teams that will make this year’s six-team tournament, a more orthodox playoff format as compared to last season’s, in which all 14 teams made the postseason. In case you haven’t been keeping up with the team or attending games at the Shark Tank this season, here are a couple of key players who have been fueling the Sharks’ recent success.
Leading the team in both game appearances (six) and innings pitched (16.2), righthander Stephen Quigley has been lights-out as a relief pitcher. The Halifax native boasts an impressive 2.16 ERA, stepping outside of the traditional starter’s role that he filled this past spring at Wheaton College.
While he pitched at least six innings in eight of his 10 starts for Wheaton this past season, Quigley has showcased his versatility as a pitcher with relief appearances for the Sharks ranging from one to four innings, perhaps in preparation for next season, where he’ll be playing as a graduate transfer at the University of Connecticut.
Quigley’s ability to perform as both a long and middle relief pitcher as well as a closer for the Sharks gives the team flexibility in the bullpen for all situations, and Quigley’s many pitching talents will surely help him as he makes the jump next year from the NCAA’s Division III to Division I.
Hailing from Warwick, R.I., and having spent the past four years as a standout hitter for the nearby Bryant University Bulldogs, outfielder Matt Woods has been red-hot as of late. In his last two games, wins against the Valley Blue Sox and Newport Gulls, Woods has enjoyed performances of four and three hits, respectively. While neither game was especially close, Woods’ stellar performances in the leadoff role generated significant offensive opportunities to kick-start the Sharks’ bats, shown by his five runs scored out of seven times on base. But his talents have not been limited to those two games — Woods has been a consistent starter for the Sharks all season, leading the team in games played with 15. In those 15 games, he’s had an exceptional batting average of .317 (19 hits in 60 at-bats), good for third-best on the team. If Woods can continue his hot streak, the Sharks will find themselves with a valuable leadoff man who can reliably get on base when his team needs it most.