Sharks playing from behind

Can MV turn the corner in time?

The Sharks want to play more resiliently down the stretch. —Sam Canfield

With the midseason point having come and gone, the reigning champs sit at a dissatisfying 10-16-1, 2.5 games back from the No. 8 seed and a spot in the postseason. Only 17 games remain in the regular season, but with the help of some resurgent play from a few key players, the Sharks’ playoff aspirations are still alive.

On the mound, Camden Mounts and Scout Updike have left their shaky starts in the rearview mirror, boasting stellar sub-2 ERAs over the past three weeks. On July 7, they teamed up against the Bristol Blues at home to help secure a 6-2 victory, pitching a combined seven innings of one-run ball. They struck out 13 Bristol batters over that time frame.

Meanwhile, fellow pitchers James Sashin and Eli Majick have been just as good all season, with near-perfect ERAs of 1.05 and 1.68 since Opening Day. Sashin’s best performance came against North Shore at home on July 1, in which he struck out nine batters over five shutout innings. The Oak Bluffs native has struck out more batters (21) through his five appearances than he has allowed walks and hits combined (18). 

Coming out of the bullpen, Majick received holds against Bristol and North Shore, and then a win against Ocean State on Sunday, July 9. On short rest, Majick struck out five Waves over two innings to help guide the Sharks to an impressive 10-9 comeback win. “He saved us,” manager Billy Uberti said. 

Down 6-2 through four and a half innings, the Sharks rattled off seven runs over the next two frames to take the lead, and proceeded to keep the Waves at bay in what Uberti called an “extremely resilient game.”

“It was good to finally be on the right side of these one-run games … We’re learning how to refuse to lose; that’s what we’re going to focus on from here on out,” Uberti said. “That was a gritty showing by the guys.”

The Sharks’ offensive outburst against Ocean State was keyed by first baseman Carsten Sabathia, who is having a resurgent season at the plate. Benched early in June, Sabathia has come alive over the past couple of weeks. Against the Waves on Sunday, he drove in three RBIs on three hits, including a solo home run. Against Bristol on the 7th, he hit a three-run jack to break the game open early.

“He’s got a lot of power,” Uberti explained. “You can see it even when he’s hitting singles.”

This upcoming week, the Sharks will play Ocean State three more times, as well as fellow division rivals Mystic Schooners and North Shore Navigators one time apiece. The Waves and the Navigators are right there with the Sharks in the wild card race, so the Vineyard will have to tap into a certain level of clearheadedness ahead of these games to keep their playoff hopes alive.

“Opening Day mentality,” Uberti stated.