Do or die for the Sharks 

The Vineyard has only three more regular-season home games.


The Sharks’ 44-game regular season will come to an end this Sunday, and their playoff push is as close as ever. 

The New England Collegiate Baseball League’s reigning champs are only 1.5 games back from the No. 8 seed, but will have to leapfrog three teams in the standings in order to clinch the final wild-card spot.

Immediately ahead of the Sharks (16-22-1) in the wild-card race are their coastal division rivals the North Shore Navigators (18-22) and the Ocean State Waves (17-21-1). Fortunately, the Sharks have retaken the in-season tiebreaker against both teams over the past couple of weeks, with two key victories over Ocean State, and one over North Shore.

On July 13, the Sharks’ pitching staff ran a clinic against the Waves away, limiting Ocean State to only one run and five hits. Scout Updike opened things up with four scoreless innings, backed up by two more from star reliever Eli Majick, to help win it 5-1.

Two days later, the Vineyard bats led the way, spearheading a late-inning comeback to beat the Waves again, 7-5. At the bottom of the order, third baseman Gio Colasante had two hits, two walks, a run, and an RBI, while second baseman Demitri Diamant drove in three.

Diamant, a sophomore at Georgia Tech and two-way star for manager Billy Uberti and co., also touts a formidable 2.40 ERA through 10 appearances for the Sharks. 

“Not many can do what he does,” Uberti said. “To go 12 innings in the field during back-to-backs, then come in and pitch two innings … It’s one of the more impressive things I’ve seen.”

Against North Shore on the 18th, Diamant came up big again, going three-for-four with a home run and a double in the 16-5 rout. “He’s a super-athletic kid,” Uberti stated.

Diamant’s Georgia Tech teammate, Carsten Sabathia, son of six-time All-Star C.C. Sabathia, also homered against North Shore, driving in three. It was the first of three homers Sabathia would hit in three consecutive days. 

The power-hitting first baseman started the season in and out of the lineup, but has emerged as one of the Sharks’ most important hitters, batting third. Through the first couple of weeks of play, Sabathia’s OPS was a lowly .480; it has since ballooned to .855, peaking at .903 a week ago.

“He’s been working his tail off,” Uberti explained. “I’ve never seen more power in this league, and he’s [still] a very humble kid.”

Rounding out the action for the Vineyard were three big games against the No. 1 seed Newport Gulls, including a “heart-wrencher” at home on the 20th. 

Up 7-4 in the top of the ninth, the Sharks surrendered five runs to their division rivals, putting an empowering total team win in jeopardy. To make things even more agonizing, the Sharks brought it to 9-8 in the bottom of the ninth, and stranded a runner on second. 

“That’s baseball,” Uberti said after the loss. “But the offense showed how impressive it is, fighting back in the ninth.”

The Sharks avenged themselves this past Tuesday, crushing the Gulls 13-4 in seven innings for the first game of a doubleheader. The Vineyard collected a total of 19 hits in the romp, including three from Sabathia, four from Colasante, and home runs by Scott Seeker, Ryan McCoy, and Max Kaufer.

Moving forward, the No. 11 Sharks have three must-win games at the Shark Tank before the regular season ends. On Thursday, they will play No. 9 North Shore at 7:05 pm, and then a doubleheader against No. 10 Ocean State on Saturday night.

“We’re capable of making a run in the playoffs if we get in,” Uberti stated. “We have to control what we can control … our games are must-wins from here on out.”