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Quartet Of Whalers Earn Call To ACBL All-Stars

By Brett Mauser , 07/11/08, 10:21PM EDT

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Photos by Brett Mauser

Southampton - The Hampton Whalers baseball team’s pitching has been so good, it’s no wonder its league counterparts took notice. On Monday, starting pitchers Andrew Guarrasi, Phil Klein and Gardner Leaver, along with shortstop David Leon, were selected by their peers to compete in the 2008 Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game.

The Whalers quartet will play for the Kaiser Division, which will lock horns with the Wolff Division all-stars on Monday, July 14 at St. John’s University.

“They’re doing a great job and keeping us in ballgames,” Whalers Manager Julio Vega said. “They deserve it. The best asset of the team is the pitching staff. We have five or six guys who could be on the All-Star team.”

Klein and Guarrasi rank fourth and sixth in the ACBL in earned run averages. Klein, a freshman at Youngstown State, is 2-2 with a team-best 1.50 ERA. He has given up two or fewer runs in all four of his starts, including a two-hit, no-run gem over five innings in the Whalers’ 6-3 victory over Long Island on Sunday. A lack of control plagued his rookie year at Youngstown (19 walks in 18 2/3 innings), yet Klein has given up a total of three walks over his last three starts, this after surrendering five in his Whalers debut on June 10.

Guarrasi, who just completed his sophomore season at New York Tech, has compiled a 3-1 mark and 1.82 ERA in five starts. His 31 strikeouts are tops on the team and third in the league behind fellow all-stars Darren Gorski (Kutztown) and Tom Moran (Peekskill). Guarrasi comes off seven innings of four-hit, zero-run ball in leading the Whalers to a 5-0 win at Metro N.Y. on June 26.

That tandem is joined by Leaver, whose 2.18 ERA entering Tuesday play would place him in the top 10, if not for falling just shy of the qualifying amount. The former East Hampton star and current Rhode Island sophomore has a record of just 1-3, yet his last two losses came by scores of 2-0 and 1-0.

“We’re proud of the fact that when we put this team together, it was our intention to build it around pitching, and we’ve done that,” Whalers President Rusty Leaver said.

Leon has sparkled at shortstop for the Whalers. Klein’s teammate at Youngstown has nearly twice as many assists (45) as his nearest teammate, Kyle Walker (26). Leon has also committed just four errors, atoning for a college season in which he totaled 26 in 52 games.

“He’s a shortstop who puts the ball in play, but for him it’s mostly defense,” Vega said. “That’s what you ask for from your shortstop.”

Whalers Fall At Long Island
After a doubleheader sweep of the Mustangs on Sunday, the Whalers were unable to keep the momentum going, falling to Long Island, 6-4, at Hofstra University on Tuesday night.

The Whalers led 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning when Long Island struck for three runs off of reliever Blake Wascom. The right-hander from Louisiana-Lafayette gave up a bloop single and then a two-run home run to fall behind 5-4, and the Mustangs added to that lead later.

“It’s just baseball,” Vega said. “It would have been great to win because we were in position to win, and the way the pitching staff has been throwing, you expect to win it, but that’s the way the game is.”

Gardner Leaver was chased with two outs in the fifth. Left-hander Brian Saldana came up with another excellent relief appearance before giving way to Wascom. Offensively, Chris Walker had three hits, including two doubles, while driving in one. Mark Houck Jr. belted an RBI double as well as a single.

The Whalers take the road again Wednesday for a rare mid-week doubleheader at Peekskill. Matthew Smith of Yale takes the ball for the 5 p.m. start, while Southern Maine’s Tim Therrian toes the rubber for game two, slated for 8 p.m. They’ll then travel to St. John’s to face Metro N.Y. on Thursday.