With eight games to go as of Tuesday, the Montauk Mustangs, a first-year entry in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League, needed to win four to earn a playoff berth.
While the playoffs may not be in the cards, the season, according to the Mustangs’ coach, Jason Szafarski, has gone “really well. We’re probably among the top two in the league in attendance. The field is beautiful, I just hope they maintain it.”
“One thing we’ve got to do next year is get more people involved in the running of things, to pick up the slack. You just can’t put it all on one guy’s shoulders.”
That guy, Bob Aspenleiter, who has, in the absence of other volunteer hosts, put up most of the team’s players this summer, said during a recent conversation that, indeed, a field of dreams had been built at the Montauk School.
“We put more than $20,000 into improving the field, 120 tons of infield soil was trucked in, and Robert Fischer of Fischer Fencing and Morgan Neff built a ‘Montauk Monster’ in dead center, volunteering their time. I’d say the distance down the left-field line is 288, 340 in right, now that we’ve moved back the temporary fence that was there, and in center I’d say it’s about 440. There haven’t been many home runs hit over ‘the Monster,’ five maybe.”
The field of dreams having been built, “they have come,” said Aspenleiter. “Our attendance has been spectacular. We’ve been getting 80 to 100 at our games.”
On Sunday, spectators could pick and choose as the Mustangs engaged in a tripleheader with the Riverhead Tomcats that lasted from 1 to 6:30 p.m.
The first encounter — the resumption of a July 2 game called in the ninth inning because of darkness — was decided in the bottom of the 12th by Deilyn Guzman’s single that scored John Palladino from third base with the game-winner.
A former East Hampton High School star who now plays at Molloy College, Guzman can play any infield position. On Sunday, he played shortstop.
Unfortunately, after prevailing 11-10, the Mustangs then went on to lose 6-5 and 4-3.
“We’ve been playing a lot of 1-run games lately,” said Szafarski. “We just can’t seem to get the big hit.”
As of this week, several of his players were among the league statistical leaders. Dylan Mouzakes (Pace) was the league’s fourth leading pitcher with a 2.05 earned run average. T.J. Santiago (Adelphi) had the eighth-best e.r.a. at 2.46, and Devin Bear (Northwestern State) was in the 12th spot with an e.r.a. of 3.11.
Hitting-wise, Mike Palladino (Quinnipiac) was the seventh leading batter with a .325 average, which included 20 runs batted in, and Victor Sorrento (Sacred Heart) was hitting .269 with 3 home runs and 16 runs batted in.