Have you ever heard the expression, "down and out?" Well, after their defeat in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League (ACBL) Championship Game last Saturday, the Hampton Whalers may be out, but they certainly are not down.
With an impressive season behind them, the Whalers exploded onto the field with the talent and motivation that usually accompanies a seasoned team, not the Nicky New Guys.
The Whalers started off the season 0-6, a score that did not drag down their morale as they matched a 6-1 finish. On July 20, the Whalers had a record of 13-20, with seven games in the wings to prove themselves. They solidified a 12-1 record at Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor, their home base. It is here that they overcame a 1-0 loss during their second game of the divisional championship, a win that earned them a place in the championship game in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.
The Whalers stepped up to the plate at the ACBL Championship Game with the confidence that the August 12 division championship win supplied. Karl Derbacher, Alan Parks and Chris Walker, the first three batters, swung some singles that sent the team straight to the scorecard. The Whalers started off the game with a 2-0 lead.
After starting pitcher Andrew Guarrasi took the mound, however, the team's strong start fizzled out. One out followed by a slow ground ball to shortstop David Leon took its toll on the team's position in the game, and spurred a series of small mishaps that started to add up. Mark Houck had a hard time scooping up a ground ball, and when Leon stepped in to throw it to first, he was too late to keep Kutztown Rockies player John Schultz from scoring. Andrew Guarassi walked the leadoff batter, but appeared to injure himself in the process. Then, Rockies' player Tony Capozzi stepped up to bat and fired a ball that bounced off of Guarrasi's glove. The Rockies runner made it home.
As the Whalers tried to get it together in the dugout, the Rockies decided to give it all they had to put the promising new talent to bed. Casey Lawrence, the Rockies starting pitcher, took the mound with bullets in his hand instead of baseballs. He struck out Tom Coulombe and ended the inning.
After scoring a run in the fifth inning, the Rockies took a 4-2 lead. Guarrasi retired to the sidelines after surrendering 10 hits and four runs over his five innings, after not losing a game since July 12. John Flanagan and Pat Holloway stepped in and each pitched an inning where the Rockies did not score. After Matt Young hit a two-run single on a pitch from Matt Smith, the score changed to 6-2. Whalers catcher Chris Walker threw Young out when he tried to steal second. Smith stood like a statue as a bunt, hit by Kevin Miller, fell between him and third base. With Capozzi at the plate, Miller proceeded to steal second.
In the eighth inning, the Whalers were still in the game. However, after Chris Sedon, a Rockies leading hitter and junior at Lackawanna, hit a two-run homer off Matt Smith, the end was clear. The ball flew off Sedon's bat and landed with a thud in the cornfields beyond the baseball diamond. The Rockies, who defeated Lehigh Valley in the Wolff Division championship series, won the game with a score of 8-2.
Even though the ACBL championship game did not play out according to plan, the Whalers leave a strong summer season in their wake.