Click HERE to see video of the boys’ victory.
By Mike Pintauro
In a remarkable day of baseball at the Dowling Sports Complex in Shirley, the Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers (18-2) snuck past the Rockaway Rocks (13-4) to take the Long Island Class C Finals, 1-0, on a fatal slip from the Rocks’ catcher. Monday afternoon was unpredictable, with a forecast of rain threatening to postpone or perhaps delay the matchup. But, with a little luck, the sky remained dotted with pockets of sunshine. And as unpredictable as the weather, the game left the fans stunned by the duel that was about to go down.
It was a pitcher’s duel to say the least. At the end of the fifth inning there were only three hits in the entire game, all of them by the Rockaway Rocks. Regardless, the Whalers had a lot of men on base throughout the game, fighting off the pitcher to force several walks.
In the bottom of the sixth inning it appeared the Whalers would take the lead, when Pierson sophomore Forrest Loesch tagged home on a sacrifice fly by Pierson senior Sean Hartnett. Amidst the cheers and screams of the Pierson crowd, the umpires ruled Loesch out, finding that he had left the baseline on his sprint to the plate.
The Whalers, however, would not lose their fighting spirit, and after a tight inning, Pierson Junior Colman Vila came to the plate with the chance to win the game he was pitching.
It was the bottom of the 7th inning; there were two outs, with pinch runner Jack Fitzpatrick (Pierson Freshman) on third. Vila was dialed in. The pitch was low, almost in the dirt, and Vila gave a good swing. The hit that every Pierson fan hoped to see and hear, did not come; but what happened next was a brilliant piece of baseball regulation.
The Rockaway catcher missed the pitch, and with a strike three swing by Vila, he was given the opportunity to run out the passed ball. As a result, Fitzpatrick had the go ahead to steal home, and with an amazing burst of speed he beat out the passed ball to score the only run in the game.
With the Pierson fans on their feet, the Whalers bench stormed the field to congratulate Vila and Fitzpatrick on a game-winning play that could not have been written.
The victory gives the Class C Long Island Championship to the Whalers. Their next game, for the New York State regional championship, will be Wednesday, June 6. The location and time are yet to be determined. If the Whalers win that game, they will travel to Binghampton for the state C championship.