Pierson catcher Aaron Schiavoni tagging out Southold’s Anthony Fedele at home plate on Monday. The Whalers won, 2-1. Michael Heller photo
By Gavin Menu
The regular season is over, something the Southold baseball team made abundantly clear Monday at Mashashimuet Park.
The visiting Settlers nearly pulled off an upset for the ages but ultimately fell one run short, losing 2-1 to the top-seeded Pierson-Bridgehampton Whalers, who have lost just a single game all season.
Southold moved into the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination Suffolk County Class C bracket and will face Port Jefferson on Thursday, a team they beat to open the playoffs last week. The loser of that game will be eliminated and the winner will move on to face Pierson this Saturday back in Sag Harbor at 11 a.m. A win would earn the Whalers their second consecutive county title, while a loss would mean a second meeting, again in Sag Harbor, with a winner-take-all game on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
On Monday, it was a defensive gem turned in by Pierson that ultimately made the difference in the game. Trailing by one run in the bottom of the sixth inning, Whalers centerfielder Jack Fitzpatrick threw a perfect strike to shortstop Forrest Loesch, who turned and threw a laser to catcher Aaron Schiavoni at home plate. Schiavoni tagged out Southold’s Anthony Fedele to prevent what would have been the tying run.
“Jack got the ball in quick and threw a strike to Forrest,” head coach John Tortorella said of the play. “It was perfect.”
Of course the Whalers also had their senior ace on the mound in Colman Vila, who turned in yet another masterful performance, which has become routine for the lefthander. Vila struck out 16 batters and allowed just three hits to improve to 8-0 this season.
Rob Mahony also pitched a complete game for Southold, allowing seven hits with the team playing tremendous defense behind him. The Whalers scored in the second inning on an RBI single by Nick Kruel that brought Tim Markowski home from second base. They tacked on an insurance run in the fifth inning with an infield single by Loesch that scored Fitzpatrick.
For a team so used to run production—Pierson routinely put up 10 runs or more per game this season—it was small ball that prevailed for the Whalers on Monday.
“They’re a good team and they came to play today,” Tortorella said about Southold, which had lost four times to Pierson during the regular season by an average of almost ten runs per game. “We hit the ball well but they made a lot of great plays in the outfield. You get better from games like this.”
Southold scored its first run in the sixth inning on a shot to centerfield by Alex Poliwoda that scored Shayne Johnson from second base. Fedele was waved home by head coach Mike Carver but was nailed at the plate on the perfect throw from Loesch.
The game turned chippy in the bottom half of the sixth when designated hitter Johnny Chisholm crashed into Mahoney on a routine pop-fly on the first-base line. Mahoney went hard to the ground and Chisholm was ejected from the game.
Vila closed the door with three strikeouts in the seventh inning, but a long postgame talk in centerfield clearly carried a mixed message from Tortorella and assistant coach Benito Vila.
“I wasn’t happy with how we operated there, and it’s got nothing to do with baseball,” Tortorella said. “I feel like we let our emotions get the best of us. We didn’t act like we should be acting, like Pierson baseball players should be acting.”
The Whalers will have a chance on Saturday to get back to doing what Pierson baseball has become accustomed to, which is winning championships.