Summer is heating up, and so are the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks.
With the season midpoint fast approaching, the team holds a 17-8 record and is tied for first place in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League with the Nashua Silver Knights. The Sharks are seeing record attendance numbers, boosted by the newly installed lights at Vineyard Baseball Park. They’re fresh off an 11-game win streak, which began in a serendipitous manner when the Sharks won the first game played under the lights on a walk-off over the fence home run by Dylan Tice. Five of the 11 games were one-run wins, while another was a shutout, testifying to the clutch play of both the offense and defense.
The streak came to a close Sunday in a 13-2 loss to the Wachusett Dirt Dawgs, but Sharks general manager Jerry Murphy is encouraged by the potential for the remainder of the season. The regular season ends in early August.
“We not only have a good team, but a deep one,” Mr. Murphy said Monday, on one of the team’s rare days off. The top four hitters in the lineup — Ryan Siegel, Nick Sell, Dylan Tice and Donnie Cimino — are all batting over .300. Siegel, a sophomore at Mercyhurst College, leads the FCBL in batting average, with a .397 through 19 games. The starting five on the mound, meanwhile, has a combined 2.36 ERA. Trevor Breton, a sophomore pitcher from Western New England University, was named FCBL pitcher of the month for June, has a 1.00 ERA, and has allowed just four runs all season.
Five players returned from last year’s squad, including Vineyarder Tad Gold, now a junior at Endicot. Gold is joined by returnees Justin Meier, Nick Sanford, Kyle Brenner and Mike McFerran, and by a fellow Vineyard player in infielder Jack Roberts. Two former Sharks players, Anthony Corona and Ryan Morris, are assistant coaches, while last year’s assistant coach Mike Miller is now at the team’s helm.
“Mike has done a phenomenal job,” Mr. Murphy said. “When you go 11 games in a row, you can’t ask for more than that.”
The Sharks’ success has not gone unnoticed. The team is pulling in between 450 and 600 fans per night, a considerable difference from last season, when games were played during the day and drew about 150 fans per game. The lights at the ball field have “changed things dramatically,” Mr. Murphy said, as they allow families to fit in both a day at the beach and a night at the game. He said there is talk of moving start times to 7:15 p.m. next season, but “you can’t make it too late because then you don’t have the children in the stands . . . it’s a [fun] place to be as a family.”
For the younger set, chasing down foul balls has become a staple of the Sharks experience, as has running the bases with mascot Sharkey at the end of each game.
On Saturday evening, the Cabot and Pollack children, visiting from New Hampshire, did just that, tearing around the field and practicing their sliding technique before posing for photos with the mascot.
Jessica Pollack watched as son Ethan rushed over to a Sharks player to get his baseball signed. The Pollacks also came to Sharks games last year during their Vineyard visit.
“It was a great family night out,” she said.
The Martha’s Vineyard Sharks host the Torrington Titans Wednesday at 6:45 p.m. at the Vineyard Baseball Park.