By Benito Vila
It was over almost as soon as it began Thursday as Pierson outplayed Port Jefferson in game two of the best-of-three Class C championship, taking the county title in a 13-1 rout. The Whalers held off the Royals, 8-6, in the series opener in Mashashimuet Park Tuesday, a nail-biter that ended with the bases full of Royals and the go-ahead run at first base.
Both sides expected much of the same intensity in the rematch at Port Jefferson Thursday, but instead 14 Pierson batters made their way to the plate in the top of the first inning with the Whalers posting eight runs before they even took the field. After retiring the Royals easily in the bottom of the first, the Whalers came in and batted around again, re-taking the field for the bottom of the second up, 12-0.
From there the Pierson boys had an easy time of it, starting pitcher and senior tri-captain Joe Mascali making pitches that further frustrated his Port Jeff hosts. In all, Mascali threw six innings of two-hit ball, striking out four and walking only one. There were no errors in the field behind him, the only miscue coming in the middle innings on a high pop that eluded him although he quickly made up for that from the mound.
Classmate and tri-captain Casey Crowley relieved Mascali for the seventh, struggling with his control at first but finding a way to strikeout the side and set off the Whaler celebration. The one-sided win gives Pierson its eighth county title and its first since 2006 and improves the team’s record to 15-8 overall after a 12-6 season in League VIII play.
On the way home, parents, friends and fans alike organized an impromptu parade, fire department trucks greeting the team bus on the Bridgehampton Turnpike and escorting it up and down Main Street, players hooting, hollering and waving their shirts out the bus’ safety windows. Back at the school, family members gathered for more pictures and a final re-telling of what was a series of odd occurrences that all seemed to benefit the Whalers.
And it all started in that first inning, a lead-off walk to Casey Crowley kicking off a sequence that saw three more walks, two hit batsmen, two errors and some timely hitting. By the end of the 14-batter Whaler first, Crowley had walked and scored twice and Kyle McGowin had two hits and three runs batted in.
McGowin ended the day three-for-three with four RBIs, with Dane Riva, Tyler Gilbride, Gavin Kudlak and senior tri-captain Ryan Miller each coming home with two hits apiece. Riva, McGowin, Miller, Kudlak and first baseman Joey Dowling all made plays in the field that kept the Royals from finding their way around the bases.
The Whalers take on the county’s Class B champion next Friday, May 29, with the winner of that C-at-B game traveling to the Class A champion on Monday, June 1 for the county’s small school title.
Pierson can advance in the state tournament by outlasting Nassau County champ Oyster Bay in the Long Island Class C Championship and Southeast Regional on June 8.