The Sharks eked out a victory in their first game of the NECBL playoffs Sunday night, defeating the Newport Gulls 2-1 on the back of an eight-inning pitching gem from hurler Bryan Ketchie.

The series now moves to Newport for a 6:30 game Monday. A victory tonight in the three-game series and the Sharks are on to the league championship series; a defeat and they come back to the Vineyard on Tuesday for the deciding game.

Tight 2-1 game still had plenty of excitement on the base paths. — Mark Alan Lovewell

But before the first-place Sharks could take the field on Sunday night, the team had to roll up their socks — or take them off, in the case of center-fielder Matt Chamberlain — and roll out the tarp as a brief rainstorm descended on the Shark Tank. The players didn’t seem to mind, and neither did the fans, happy to wait out 15 minutes of showers to watch the best team in the league play their inaugural NECBL playoff game.

First pitch came about an hour later. It was thrown by Dukes County Commissioner Keith Chatinover.

Mr. Chatinover, who at age 19 just announced his retirement from broadcasting after six years in the Shark’s press box, was given a signed bat from the Sharks team and a bear-hug from Sharks general manager Russ Curran before stepping up to the mound. Mr. Chatinover’s high fastball was pretty much the only thing out of the strike zone in the first inning, as Shark’s lefty Brian Ketchie started the game with five straight strikes and retired the Gulls in order.

Sharks faithful were not deterred by rain delay. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Over the next eight innings, the Catawba College stalwart — who also led the Sharks to a playoff victory from the mound last year — dominated the Gulls lineup. His curveball had whiffing Newport batters falling to their knees; his fastball left unsuspecting Gulls frozen in the batter’s box as he finished with six strikeouts and no walks. After Ketchie recorded his final out of the eighth inning, a Gulls player snapped the bat over his knee in frustration.

The lone blemish on Ketchie’s night came in the fourth inning when Newport’s shortstop Scott Holzwasser tattooed the baseball to center for a homerun, temporarily giving the Gulls a one-nothing lead. It wouldn’t last long.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Sharks answered with a run of their own. Two walks, two wild pitches and a soft liner to left off the bat of Wichita State infielder Brady Slavens evened the score. One inning later, the Sharks struck again after shortstop and Florida State player Nander De Sedas drove in third-baseman Jackson Raper with a screaming double down the line, making it 2-1 Sharks.

On to the next game Monday night in Newport. — Mark Alan Lovewell

The next inning the Gulls threatened to strike back after loading the bases with one out. But De Sedas got his team out of the jam by diving to snag a scorching line drive up the middle, then flipping the ball to Slavens at second base to double up the runner and end the inning.

Florida Southern pitcher Thomas Spinelli made quick work of the Gulls in the ninth, sitting them down in order to earn his third save of the year and lock up the Sharks first playoff victory. A Shark Tank packed with host families and friends celebrated the victory, bellies full with half-price Italian sausages and ice-cream cones.

“On to Newport,” Mr. Chatinover said after the game, excited that the team had prolonged his broadcast duties.