Whalers to challenge Southold in the finals
by Andrew Rudansky
With the regular season all neatly tied up, only a best of three playoff series stands between the Whalers of Pierson/Bridgehampton and a Suffolk County Class C Championship.
The Whalers are slated to take on the Southold Settlers, the only other class C team to make it to the post season, this week for the county title.
Pierson/Bridgehampton finished its season this week with a league-best record of 18-2. The team racked up the 10 wins necessary to secure a spot in the post season back in mid-April, and since then have waltzed through the rest of their schedule. Heading into this playoff series the Whalers have won their last seven games.
Southold finished third in League IX with a record of 13-7, one game behind Class D Smithtown Christian. The Settlers have a two game winning streak going into the playoffs, and have won nine of their last 10 games.
Pierson took the regular season series between these two teams 3-1, outscoring the Settlers 36-16 in those four games. Head Coach Jonathan Tortorella said these past performances can’t indicate a real favorite in the coming three-game playoff series.
“Can we beat Southold? Definitely. Can they beat us? definitely,” said Tortorella. “With the way these two teams have played this year, nothing would surprise me. We just have to play good baseball.”
Game one is at Mashashimuet Park Monday, May 21 at 4 p.m. Tortorella said he will have junior Colman Vilá, who has a season record of (8-0) as a pitcher, start the game. Game two is at Southold on Wednesday, May 23 at 4 p.m. Junior Jake Bennett is scheduled to pitch in that game. If the series goes to a game three it will be held Thursday, May 24 at 4 p.m. at home.
Pierson/Bridgehampton will certainly go into the playoffs with high spirits after routing Stony Brook (0-20) in their Senior Game last Friday.
The game, ending in a 16-0 Pierson win, was the last regular season game for graduating seniors Sean Hartnett, Emet Evjen, Jeremy Pepper, Hunter Leyser, Harley Decker, Michael Heller, Paul Dorego and Brendan Hemby.
“I would definitely give these seniors a big nod in their leadership and how they go about their business,” said Tortorella after the game.
Heller started on the mound for the Whalers, pitching four innings with eight strikeouts, four walks and only one hit. Evjen was given cleanup duty in the seventh inning. This was his first appearance on the mound in his varsity career. He recorded a single strikeout without giving up any walks.
Leyser led Pierson from the plate, going 2-3 with two RBIs coming from a massive hit to right field in the bottom of the first inning. Decker went 2-2 with an RBI and a double. Hartnett went 2-3 with one single, a walk, and a RBI double. Dorego went 1-3 with an RBI. Pepper was walked and scored one run.
“Our offense and our pitching has been key to our success this year. It has really been pretty impressive watching these guys pitch every game,” said Tortorella.
Pierson/Bridgehampton was scheduled to have a final game at Stony Brook, but that game was rained out and later forfeited in Pierson’s favor.
Also boosting the confidence of the Whalers going into the post season, was the recent Section XI awards announcement.
Seven Pierson/Bridgehampton athletes on the baseball team were recognized for their performance on the field this season, more than any other League IX team.
Aaron Schiavoni and Colman Vilá were both named to the All-County as well as the All-League teams. Leyser, Hartnett, Dorego, Bennett were also named All-League. In addition Heller received the Academic All-League award.
Tortorella said that the Whalers can’t let these accomplishments go to their heads.
“The sooner we start thinking we can just beat [Southold], the sooner we will be sent home,” he said.