After a year with no summer league baseball, Island fans flocked to opening day at the Shark Tank Tuesday evening to watch the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks defeat the Ocean State Waves 8-3.

The Sharks flexed their hitting power throughout the game. They struck first in the fourth when center fielder Tommy Siedel scored off a sacrifice fly from second baseman Drew Grace. The Sharks would tack on another run in the fifth. The Waves chipped away at the Sharks’ lead in the middle innings. But with a tied game in the eighth, shortstop Matt Berger hit a towering grand slam, putting the game out of reaching for the visiting squad.

Holy cow, the play at the plate, it's going to be close. — Tim Johnson

On the other side of the ball, starting pitcher Daniel Hegarty showed poise in his season debut. The senior from the University of Kansas pitched three scoreless innings, striking out two and allowing just three hits. Hegarty said he was excited to be back after taking last summer off due to the pandemic. “It felt really good. It’s been a long time coming, and it felt good to get back out there in front of the Shark Tank,” he said.

Hegarty leads a star-studded roster with players from Division 1 programs at Florida State, Boston College and Vanderbilt. Manager Jay Mendez said the team looks just as strong as it did in 2019 when the Sharks won the league championship. He hesitated to single out the squad’s best player. “We have a lot of talented players, so I say come out and watch the whole roster,” he said.

When asked who the team’s biggest competition is, Mendez looked inward. “Honestly, in the game of baseball, I think you’re your biggest competition. Hopefully we can keep it within ourselves,” he said.

Getting dirty for a good cause. — Tim Johnson

Fans packed the seats on a cool June evening, excited to welcome back the young players. Season regulars Kathleen Bracefield and Kelly Stewart bundled up as a chilly spring fog rolled in. The pair have been coming to games with their kids since the team was founded. They said it was hard to not be able to watch the Sharks last year. “That’s all we do in the summer, we don’t go into town, we leave that for the tourists. This is our thing. Every home game,” said Kathleen.

Michael Brown and his son Miles enjoyed cups of ice cream as they watched the game. For Miles, the game was an important scouting mission. He wore his forest green baseball uniform to the field and paid attention to the batters in preparation for his t-ball game later in the week.

With no mask mandate in place, the evening felt like any other at the park, rounded out by the Island’s characteristic spring fog and a foul ball that smashed team co-owner J.R. Roberts’ rear car window.

Going all in for summer baseball fun at the Shark Tank. — Tim Johnson

Play-by-play announcer Jonathan Chatinover said the fan-filld Shark Tank a welcome sight and marks a return to normalcy on the Island. “Last year was tough year for everybody and baseball in the scheme of things was not a huge loss but we certainly missed it. It’s great to have it back,” he said.

The Sharks will head to Connecticut to take on the Bristol Blues today. Their next home game is June 10.

More pictures.