Shortstop Ben McNeill sharpening skills in Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League

Shortstop Ben McNeill sharpening skills in Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League

OLD WESTBURY, N.Y. — Ben McNeill emerged as the everyday shortstop for the NYIT baseball team as a freshman this past spring after an injury opened the door for him to enter the season opener at Arkansas State in the third inning.

Now, McNeill has been staying sharp by playing for the Long Island Road Warriors in the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League this summer. In their inaugural season, the Road Warriors are currently 11-6-1 and in second place in the seven-team league.

McNeill is hitting .237 with seven runs scored, seven RBIs and one stolen base in 59 at-bats.

In the team's first-ever game, McNeill recorded the first hit in Road Warriors history — in the top of the first inning on June 2 against the Westhampton Aviators, the reigning HCBL Champion. The Road Warriors ultimately won the game, 8-7.

"As a new team coming into the league, that's been the best moment," McNeill said.

McNeill is grateful for the opportunity to compete in the league. He believes it will help his development as an athlete. The league draws college talent from Division I programs including Duke, Stony Brook, Penn and Hofstra.

The Road Warriors do not have a home field, so they play entirely on the road in the Hamptons and vicinity.

"It's a great experience playing some of the top competition in the country," McNeill said. "It's an awesome league that gives you the opportunity to learn to become a better ballplayer."

A Commack High School product, McNeill batted .213 with one home run and 16 RBIs in 42 games as a freshman with the Bears in 2017.

NYIT baseball enters the East Coast Conference in 2018 — the same league in which all of the program's other sports already have been competing.

"I'm looking forward to a new fresh start with a great group of guys, and to win some ballgames," McNeill said.