By Jesse Rosenthal
Following two consecutive rainouts early this week, the Pierson Baseball Whalers played their first scrimmage yesterday against the East Hampton Bonackers. The short seven inning scrimmage ended in an 8-3 defeat for the Whalers.
After three batters up and three batters down in the top of the first inning for senior pitcher Kyle McGowin, the Whalers were off to a promising start.
McGowin looked good out of the gate but the first would be the last scoreless inning that the Whalers would see. After leaving two men on base in the bottom half of the first, the Bonackers scored two on a couple base hits and a passed ball at home plate.
Pierson’s bats were hot early. After hitting a single through the infield gap, Brandon Kruel scored easily on a right field double off the bat of Mark Mahoney. Lead-off man Tyler Gilbride supplied a looping fly ball into short center, earning himself an RBI and tying the game in the process.
The Bonackers responded in kind with a lead-off triple, followed by a base hit to to take the lead. The Whalers tied it right back up on an infield single from Kruel. After McGowin forced the Bonackers to leave runners on 2nd and 3rd in the top of the fourth, East Hampton’s pitching change in the bottom half of that inning resulted in three men left on base. The defining moment in this baseball game, the pitching change would leave the Whalers offensively stifled for the remainder of play. Such was the tempo of the game until the wheels fell of for Pierson in the top of the fifth. They gave up two on one fly ball over the head of Dane Riva in left field, and a sacrifice fly to left to make it 5-3 Bonackers.
A comeback still looked probable until the top of the seventh inning when reliever Jake Federico gave up three runs on four hits. Unable to respond offensively, the Whalers ended their first scrimmage with a disappointing 8-3 loss at the hands of the Bonackers.
Coach Tortorella’s two pitching changes failed to stop the able bats of the Bonackers as McGowin, Donald Doran and Jake Federico gave up a combined eight runs over seven innings of baseball. The starting rotation shouldn’t take all the heat here though. Not all of the eight runs were earned, and careless errors in the field contributed to costing the whalers a pre-season win. Also, the Whalers’ offense which was competitive early, fizzled in the last few innings. But it’s only a scrimmage, and the very first one at that.
“We made some mistakes,” said Coach Tortorella. “It’s the first scrimmage of the season. I’d rather make them now and be able to fix them then be making them further into the season.”
The Whalers may have room for improvement, but it’s as early in the season as it’s going to be and Coach Tortorella has ample time to make the necessary adjustments. The talent is visibly there; It’s the fundamentals that may be lacking at this early stage.
Coach Tortorella said prior to this game that he was looking for an increase in intensity, preparedness, teamwork and hustle from his players. If yesterday’s scrimmage was any indication, preparedness may be where there is most room for improvement.
Yesterday’s scrimmage was a make-up game for a rainout originally scheduled for March 22. Coming up are two more scrimmages before the regular season opener. The first is away in Hampton Bays this Saturday, March 27, at 10:30 a.m., followed by another road trip to Mattituck on the 29th at 1:00 p.m. The season opener, which is the first in a three game series, will be played at Center Moriches on April, 6 at 4:30 p.m.
Look for some tough competition from Center Moriches, who along with fellow divisional rivals Southold, recorded a 15-6 overall record last season. Following the Center Moriches series is a non-league two game series against Hampton Bays.
Ladies Set to Open
Also, watch for the Pierson softball Lady Whalers who will be making their season opening debut at Southold this Friday, March 26 at 4:00 p.m. The Lady Whalers have played three scrimmages so far, for which they do not keep score. Coach Melissa Edwards is looking forward to a promising season with six returning players rounding out a solid squad.
“We expect to go out every day and be the best that we can be that given day,” said Edwards. “We expect to not put an emphasis on one specific day or game, and just give it our all, day in and day out. By doing that we will see the success unfold.”