MV Sharks kick off summer with exhibition match

Coaches are still rounding out the lineup: ‘You have to earn your spot’


Reigning New England Collegiate Baseball League champions the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks took the field for the first time this year on Monday, facing off against the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod Baseball League for a friendly interleague exhibition match.

In the top of the first and second innings, the Kettleers actually pitched to their own batters, because the Sharks were undermanned, and wanted to preserve their pitchers for their first few regular-season games this week. Roughly 20 percent of the Sharks’ roster is still competing in the NCAA playoffs with their respective schools, and will join the team over the next few weeks. 

“Once the season starts, the season starts,” field manager Billy Uberti said. “We didn’t want to burn too many arms.”

Of the Sharks who did appear on the mound for Uberti and co., Scout Updike of Jacksonville University impressed the most, pitching two scoreless innings with three strikeouts and no hits. “He looked really sharp,” Uberti stated after the game. “He showed that he can control that slider well.”

The Sharks’ pitching staff pitched five innings total, giving up one earned run in the 4-0 loss. The other three runs, including a two-run home run for catcher Jacob Sharp of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, were scored by Cotuit off their own pitchers. 

In the field, Sharks center fielder Kaden Martin of the University of Miami made an amazing throw to home, beating the Kettleer base runner by nearly 10 feet, and second baseman Demetri Diamant of Georgia Tech made a diving catch to take away a line drive up the middle.

On the offensive side, Uberti and his coaching staff got as many guys as they could into the lineup, “to get everyone’s feet wet.” For Uberti and co., two at-bats per person was a good “starting point” to see what his players were capable of in-game. He has his players’ stats from college, but tries to give everyone a clean slate when they arrive on the Island.

“Some of them play a lot [at their] colleges. Others don’t. The NECBL is different … we play with wood bats (instead of metal bats), and it’s [just] a different game,” Uberti said. “You have to earn your spot here, which is a positive for sure.”

Against Cotuit, Caden Shapiro of Princeton and Scott Seeker of Mount St. Mary’s led the way at the dish, with Shapiro going 2-for-2, and Seeker tallying a single and a walk. Unfortunately, the Sharks couldn’t string enough solid at-bats together to get anyone across the plate. In the top of the sixth, the Sharks had two men on and no outs, but ultimately left all three men on base.

Regardless, Uberti is satisfied with his hitters’ effort, and is optimistic that a good lineup will come together after a couple of weeks of seeing his guys at the plate. “We’ve only been together for three days, [but] we’ve got a very respectable group, with a lot of physicality … 100 percent of our hitters showed up for extra swings outside of normal practice.”

This week, the Sharks will have their home opener on Wednesday, after our paper deadline, versus the North Shore Navigators at 6:35 pm. Wednesday will be “Little League Night,” when MVLL players and their families get in free, and MVLL teams will be introduced on the field. The Sharks will also be raising their 2022 NECBL championship banner on Wednesday.

On Thursday, they’ll have another home game at 6:35 pm, this time against the Mystic Schooners, before going on a three-game road trip. The Sharks will play a total of 45 regular-season games in 53 days this June and July.