After 0-6 start, the Sharks’ bats have come alive

Veterans' Night at an MV Sharks' game. —courtesy MV Sharks

A 16-3 drubbing of the North Shore Navigators (6-7) away on Tuesday night indicates where the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks have steered their season in the past two weeks.

After starting out the summer 0-6 and firing their head coach two days into the New England Collegiate Baseball League season, the Sharks have come back from the dead, winning five of their last nine, and three of their last four.

In this nine-game stretch, the Vineyard has averaged seven scored runs per game — they were averaging 2.16 runs through their first six losses.

The Sharks’ (5-10) turnaround began with a walk-off victory over the Mystic Schooners (7-9) on Saturday, June 15, ousting their Coastal Division rivals 6-5. Since then, the Vineyard has also exchanged blows with the division-leading Newport Gulls (10-5), and swept a doubleheader versus the Upper Valley Nighthawks (4-10) at home on June 22.

Interim head Coach Ryan Miller of Longwood University in Virginia attributes the Sharks’ resurgence to their coachability.

“I can’t say enough about their work ethic — these guys are grinders,” Miller said. “They show up early, communicate with the coaches, and always ask for more help. They’ve been trusting the process, and things are starting to turn around.”

The Sharks’ offensive revival has been keyed by first baseman Reese Robinett from the University of Arkansas and All–Big Ten shortstop Chris Hacopian from the University of Maryland.

Robinett is batting .400 with 15 RBI, nine walks, and seven extra-base hits (two homers) through 13 games, compiling an astounding on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) of 1.185. He has 10 RBIs and one strikeout over his past five games played.

Meanwhile, Hacopian is batting .310 with an OPS of .860, including three doubles, a home run, and four walks through 14 games. He has only struck out four times all season.

“Reese has really turned it on. Our goal is to send him back to school to contend for a starting spot. Off the field, he’s one of the greatest people I’ve met,” Miller said. “Hacopian approaches the game like a professional. He’s focused, respectful, and a standup kid.”

Harvard University catcher William Hybrook has been no slouch either, hitting .273, with four home runs and two doubles in just 10 games.

On the mound, Hunter Shaw of Ohio State University has an ERA of 2.76 through three starts (13 innings), with seven strikeouts. Out of the bullpen, Matthew Heyl of Stetson University has a flawless 0.0 ERA through two appearances (seven innings), with four strikeouts. 

“Shaw is a bulldog on the mound. He attacks hitters and gets ahead in counts,” Miller said. “Heyl is a quiet kid that pushes himself hard and does his job.”

Moving forward, the Sharks have 29 games to go in the regular season, including 16 at the Shark Tank in Oak Bluffs. Their next two home games are this coming Friday and Monday nights, against division rivals Ocean State (8-7) at 7:05 pm.