By Mike Pintauro
The sun was out and not a cloud in the sky on Tuesday afternoon at Mashashimuet Park. With the exception of the wind coming out of the west you couldn’t ask for a better day to play ball. It was the third and final game of the Suffolk County Class C Championships, and with the series tied 1-1, the Pierson/Bridgehampton varsity Whalers (18-2) looked to take the series against the Southold Settlers (13-7).
Pierson came out on top in this final championship game, 7-1, after hammering Southold at the plate.
As the game got underway, Southold fans came out strong, filling the bleachers early to root for their team, but it was only a matter of time until the burgeoning Pierson crowd occupied most of the landscape.
Pierson junior, Colman Vilá started as pitcher, facing off against Southold’s ace righty, Kyle Clausen. The Whalers had won three out of four games against the Settlers during the regular season, having suffered one of their only two losses this year back in late April.
Vilá got himself into an early jam in the first, but with solid fielding he was able to close out the inning with no runs scored.
The Whalers however, slapped a couple of hits in their first at-bats, with sophomore Aaron Schiavoni driving in Vilá, who earlier had dug out a ground ball to beat the throw to first. Later in the inning the Whalers were in a good position to take a big lead with bases loaded and one out, but were unable to capitalize.
Vilá recorded two strikeouts in the second, as he led the Whalers to a one-two-three inning. Clausen, however, was just as strong, and took care of the Whalers hitting in similar fashion.
The Whalers opened up their lead in the third, with an RBI single to right field by Pierson senior Paul Dorego. Dorego would later steal second, allowing sophomore Forrest Loesch to score on a passed ball.
After another solid inning, Southold would score their only run in the top of the fifth. Dorego, who was solid all day in the field, just missed a diving catch on a fly ball to right field, leading to an RBI single for Southold later in the inning.
The wind kept howling as the game went on, and the Whalers kept engaging Clausen with solid at-bats. With the bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the fifth, senior Sean Hartnett roped a single to center to score a run, followed by an RBI sac-fly by sophomore Tim Markowski.
In the top of the sixth it appeared Southold might just rally to get back in the game. Vilá balked, moving the runner to second, and after a ground ball, there was a runner on third with two outs. It seemed certain that Southold was to score more runs, when a Southold batter took a Vilá pitch soaring out towards left-center field. Senior Hunter Leyser, however, made a running catch to end the inning.
Heading into the 7th, the Whalers had the game locked in with a solid 7-2 lead over the Settlers. Vilá had a near perfect inning to end the game, forcing two easy-pop ups and a fly out to center.
Vilá finished with five strikeouts to three walks in a 5 hit complete game.
Head Coach Jonathan Tortorella said he felt confident about his team throughout the game.
“We had times when Colman got a little into a hole, but our defense came up big,” he said.
The team in fact had great poise out in the field, but the final win came from their abilities at-bat. At the plate the Whalers fought through many foul balls; enough to hit a few cars in the parking lot. As a result they wore down strikeout artist Clausen.
Loesch led the team at the plate, going 3 for 3 with an RBI, three runs and a hit by pitch. Schiavoni went 2 for 3 with two RBIs, one run, a double and a walk. Dorego went 2 for 3 with an RBI, a hit by pitch, and one stolen base.
“It’s always hard when you have to win or go home, and these guys know that,” said Coach Tortorella, right before the team swarmed him with a cooler full of ice water.
Now with their first Suffolk County Class C title since 2009 in hand, the Whalers face a challenging opponent in the Class C Regional Semi-Finals. The East Rockaway Rocks finished their regular season with the second best record of 14-8, yet defeated Friends Academy in a best of three series on May 17. The game will take place 4 p.m., Monday, June 4 at the Dowling Sports Complex at Dowling College. Admission is $7.