By Benito Vila
Southampton hurler Chris Pike fired a no-hitter on Friday in the Suffolk County small schools tournament, the Class B champion Mariners ousting the Class C champion Pierson Whalers, 12-0.
The loss eliminated Pierson from the county tournament, but not the state tournament, the Whalers matching up with Nassau Class C champion Oyster Bay on Monday at Fireman Field in Valley Stream at 4 p.m.
Oyster Bay, the reigning Long Island Class B champion, is currently 12-9 overall, after going 10-7 in Nassau Conference BC, most often playing larger schools. The New York State Sportswriters Association ranked the Baymen twentieth in Class C last week and had the Whalers at number ten before Friday’s loss.
Pierson is now 15-9 on the season, having gone 12-6 in league, 1-2 in non-league and sweeping defending champion Port Jefferson 2-0 in the county’s best-of-three Class C series.
The winner of Monday’s contest plays the next day against either the Westchester or Rockland County C champion. The winner of Tuesday’s game goes on to Binghamton for the state semi-finals next weekend.
Pike, Pike and More Pike
Pike’s pitching was masterful Friday, setting down the first six Whalers in order, his teammates building an early 6-0 lead. An error in the top of the third on a Brandon Kruel line drive to left, gave the Whalers some hope, but a ground ball started a second-to-short-to-first double play, stopping Pierson long before it could get anything going.
That error proved to be the only flaw on an otherwise perfect afternoon for the Class B champs and their pitcher, Pike facing only 21 Whalers, the minimum number of batters possible, in notching his no-hitter. Pike also recorded the final putout of the game, covering first as first baseman Alex Antilety’s stop stole away Tyler Gilbride’s bid to break up the no-hitter.
In all, Pike struck out 11 Whalers, with Casey Crowley and Dane Riva being the only Pierson players to ring out line drives, both of those balls being caught on the run in the outfield. It was Pike’s second successful outing against Pierson this year, the junior tossing a one-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts in non-league play in late March. On the season, Pike has gone 7-1 in leading Southampton to a 19-7 mark.
On Tuesday, the Mariners made their way to Islip and came home the Suffolk small schools runner-up, falling behind the Buccaneers 6-0 early on but battling back to a 6-4 final. Southampton plays Nassau B champ Wheatley at 4 p.m. in Hauppauge Monday.
After the loss last Friday Pierson coach Sean Crowley said, “Pike had good stuff and everything lined up for them. They made nearly every play and when they missed one, they turned two [a double play after an error] on the very next batter. We had a couple of seeing-eye singles get through in the first; that gave them a 2-0 lead. Then a three-run homer put us in hole 6-0 and we tightened up. That helped them relax while we struggled.”
“We have our sights set on Oyster Bay now. A win next Monday and we keep playing. We win two and we go to Binghamton. And a four-game win streak gets us the state title. Putting that together is where our focus is.”