Boys gearing up in series of scrimmages
by Andrew Rudansky
With most of the team’s pre-season baseball scrimmages out of the way, the Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers are just a few short days away from the home opener. With a completed roster, Whalers Head Coach Jonathan Tortorella’s team, especially its defensive performance, has looked sharp in these friendly scrimmages.
The Whalers saw their first taste of action against the Southampton Mariners on Saturday, March 17. A pair of scrimmages followed against the East Hampton Bonackers, first at home on Monday, March 19, and then at East Hampton on Wednesday, March 21.
Both East Hampton and Southampton are larger Class B schools and in a different league than the Class C Whalers. Pierson/Bridgehampton would not normally play either of these teams in the regular season.
While these scrimmages had no bearing on season standings, and were played with slightly different rules, as per Section XI guidelines, they still presented a great barometer for the upcoming season.
This year the Whalers are lucky to have an older, more experienced roster, one that includes eight seniors and no freshman.
According to Tortorella, he will have eight pitchers taking turns on the mound as both starters and relievers. Junior Coleman Vilá will be put at the top of the rotation, with Hunter Leyser, Sean Hartnett, Mike Heller, sophomore Forrest Loesch, junior Jake Bennett, sophomore Aaron Schiavoni, and sophomore Kyle Sturmann behind him.
During these pre-season scrimmages, Tortorella was given a first look at how this pitching rotation faired against the big bats of this Class B competition. While many upper-class pitchers like Vilá and Hartnett looked confident while on the mound, the younger pitchers still seemed to be shaken up by the pressure.
Luckily for the team, the defense looked sharp in the scrimmages. Paul Dorego and Schiavoni look to be solid anchors behind the plate at catcher, while on the infield Tortorella has a string of athletic playmakers.
At times during the scrimmages, the Whalers were out-powered at the plate, but were able to make up for it with their speedy defense.
It will be interesting to see if Tortorella can use his team’s defensive capabilities to overcome the power hitting and consistent pitching that his squad is in short supply of.
The Whalers have a final scrimmage before the season officially begins next week. That will be at McGann-Mercy in Riverhead on Friday, March 23 at 4:30 p.m. The season opener pits the Whalers against the Port Jefferson Royals at Mashashimuet Park at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27.