Some casual baseball fans are still unaware that watching a Hamptons Collegiate baseball game this year is like getting a glimpse into the future.
A few years from now, many of these young men will be playing professional baseball, and some will blossom into big league stars.
Maybe one of them will be Nick Thornquist.
Thornquist, 20, is having one hell of a summer in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League. He leads the league in batting average with an absurd mark of .536 in 56 at-bats and places first on the Sag Harbor Whalers in hits, runs, doubles, home runs, and walks. Not bad for an undersized (five-foot, eight-inch) catcher from Flower Mound High School in Texas.
The sophomore attended McLennan Community College for the past two seasons but has attracted the attention of major colleges — and maybe some MLB teams, too. Oddly enough, growing up in Missouri City there was a lot of pressure from football-crazed Cowboys fans for Thornquist to play football. He did for a spell but found out he was even better in another sport — swimming. It wasn’t until late in high school that he began concentrating on baseball.
Alex Volpi looks the part of a slugger: he’s a solid six-two, weighs in at 215, and hits rockets into the left field stands for the Shelter Island Bucks. So far, he’s drilled 11 dingers in 89 at bats, easily the best in the league. Volpi, from Mohegan Lake, NY, is beginning his junior year at Holy Cross this fall. He’s got an impressive resume: he was a four-year starter at John F. Kennedy Catholic High School under coach Barry Fletcher and was named team captain his junior and senior season. His brother starred at William and Mary. He is also a member of the National Honor Society.
Currently, the Long Island Road Warriors are running away with the league championship, boasting a sterling 19-5 record and in the midst of a seven-game winning streak.
Ben McNeil, a five-11 infielder out of Commack is hitting .338; teammate Marcos Perivolaris sits at .337. The five-eight infielder, entering his senior year at Cortland State, has been on a tear during the current winning streak; with 13 hits in 24 at bats and eight runs scored.
The Warriors boast the deadliest one-two bullpen combo in the league: Matt Paghidas, a student at SUNY Maritime who played for Miller Place, looks like a heavy metal rock star and pitches like an all-star: he’s yet to allow an earned run in 13.2 innings and has racked up 13 strikeouts.
His teammate Brandon LaManna from Lake Grove, who attends New Haven, has given up one run all season while recording six saves.
There are currently four HCBL alumni in the big leagues: Nick Ahmed and Zach Godley of Arizona, Nick Tropeano, who plays for the Angels, and Kevin McCarthy, a Sag Harbor native who is with the Kansas City Royals. Godley, a strong right-hander, has a 27-20-lifetime mark. There are 10 more alumni playing Triple A minor league baseball.