Sharks Saturday doubleheader a pivotal spot

The Sharks’ destiny is ‘in their hands’

The sharks play two pivotal games on Saturday as they look to keep their playoff hopes alive. - Sam Canfield, MV Times

With their playoff aspirations on the line, the No. 8 Sharks play their two most important games of the season tonight, against the No. 9 Ocean State Waves in the Shark Tank.

Only a half game ahead of Ocean State in the race for the final Wild Card spot, the Sharks couldn’t be facing a more perfect opponent as they enter the final weekend of the NECBL regular season.

On Thursday morning, they were 11th in the standings. But with two monster wins over the North Shore Navigators and Mystic Schooners, and consecutive losses for the No. 9 Waves and No. 10 Upper Valley Nighthawks, the Sharks have launched themselves ahead in the Wild Card race and can “control their own destiny,” manager Billy Uberti says.

Spearheading this exciting turn of events has been the Sharks offense, which scored 13 runs on the Navigators on Thursday night, and 15 on the Schooners Friday.

“These guys are in a groove, one through nine in the lineup,” Uberti stated.

Entering the bottom of the eighth inning down 7-4 against the Navigators, the Sharks’ playoff hopes were on thin ice. Up against the Navigators’ best reliever (who had a 1.74 ERA at that point), the ice was getting thinner after Sharks’ center fielder Aiden Tierney struck out swinging.

But then second baseman Demitri Diamant was hit by a pitch, sending him to first.

Then shortstop Nolan Nawrocki drew a walk. Then so did right fielder Ryan McCoy.

Three North Shore pitching changes later, the Sharks were still getting on base. When McCoy stepped up to bat for the second time in the inning, the score was 13-7, and the Navigators still had not even gotten a second out.

“There have been times this season where two-run deficits felt like 10,” Uberti stated after the unbelievable comeback win. “[Now,] there’s a good feeling in the dugout… I believe in them, because they believe in themselves.”

Flash forward 21 hours later, and the Sharks were doing the same thing to the No. 3 Schooners down in Connecticut. Before the top of the second inning had finished, it was already 11-0 Sharks. In the span of three innings, across two games, the Sharks had scored 20 earned runs against their Coastal Division rivals.

“Our guys are incredibly hard to pitch to,” Uberti said. “We’ve got a diverse skillset in the lineup; power hitters, grinders.”

The Vineyard tallied a total of 29 hits and 17 walks over the two games.

Meanwhile, on the bump, the Sharks didn’t have to go deep into their bullpen to keep the Schooners at bay. Camden Mounts (five innings, W) and Jackson Walsh (four IP, SV) combined for nine innings of four-run ball, allowing the Sharks to preserve their arms for this increasingly relevant Ocean State doubleheader.

“These are must-wins,” Uberti said earlier this week. “We’re capable of making a run in the playoffs, if we get in… our destiny’s in our hands.”

“Get into the dance, and you have a chance,” Sharks pitcher and Oak Bluffs native James Sashin quipped.

The first game of the doubleheader is scheduled for 4:30 at the Shark Tank. The Vineyard will then travel to Montpelier, VT on Sunday to face the No. 2 Mountaineers for their final game of the regular season.


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