By Gavin Menu; photography by Michael Heller and Kevin Duchemin
There are some years in terms of senior class athletes where their graduations cause head scratching as to the future of the programs they represent.
This has been one of those years at Pierson High School, and while new players and new teams will continue to fight on into the future, the absence of this year’s seniors from the baseball and softball teams will be felt well into the 2015 school year.
Pierson-Bridgehampton head baseball coach Jon Tortorella held a ceremony before last Friday’s game, a 3-1 win over Stony Brook that ended a perfect 12-0 League IX campaign, where the team honored seven senior who will be graduating in June.
Forrest Loesch, Aaron Schiavoni, Kyle Sturmann, Tim Markowski, Nick Kruel, Ulysses Poulmentis and Henry Kotz, a Bridgehampton student, will eventually move on, but not until they charge one last time toward a New York State Class C Championship, which they fell just two wins shy of last season.
The only other Class C teams from Suffolk County—Southold and Stony Brook—failed to qualify for the postseason, so the Whalers were automatically crowned county champions for the third consecutive year and will advance to play Nassau’s Friends Academy for the Long Island crown on Friday, June 6 at the Dowling Sports Complex. The winner will advance to a Southeast Regional Final on June 7, where at stake will be a berth in the state final four, to be played on June 14 in Binghamton.
“We’ve got three weeks to get better, it’s as simple as that,” Tortorella said on Friday. “They’ve been there, they know what it takes. It’s a different feel than last year, but they’re a lot tougher now.”
Kruel pitched on Friday and continued his torrid pace of late, tossing a complete game while allowing just five hits and one run, with five strikeouts and no walks. All seven seniors started and played the entire game, while Schiavoni, in particular, dominated at the plate, going 3 for 3 with two doubles and an RBI.
Earlier in the week, on Thursday, May 8, the Whalers knocked off Stony Brook, 18-3, with Theo Gray picking up the win while allowing five hits over four and one-third innings.
Ladies Honor Gilbride and Romeo
The Lady Whalers softball team also held a pre-game ceremony last week to honor seniors Kasey Gilbride and Emma Romeo, who have been with the varsity program for five years.
Gilbride, the team’s starting shortstop, and Romeo, the catcher, will lead Pierson into the Class C postseason, although head coach Melissa Edwards on Tuesday was unsure of when the playoffs would begin.
“We are definitely in, however, I won’t know until Thursday about the possibility of Southold or Stony Brook petitioning,” she said.
Those two teams this season finished with sub-.500 records and near the bottom of League V, which was won by Center Moriches with an impressive 17-1 record. The Lady Whalers, who finished fourth at 13-5, could possibly have to play Southold for the Suffolk crown, a team they dominated in two wins this season.
“Either way, we are focused on the regional tournament set up for June 7,” Edwards said. “It’s as if a new season has begun.”
The Lady Whalers closed out the regular season with an 11-7 loss to Hampton Bays in extra innings last Thursday, May 8. Pierson jumped out to a 5-0 lead early in the first inning but the Lady Baymen clawed their way back in with timely hitting and sent the game to extras, where they scored five runs in the top of the 11th inning to pull away.
“This year was a little rough with our inability to finish,” Edwards said. “We let some close games, that really would have defined is, slip away. It’s a little frustrating, but with each loss we learned and grew from it, and that’s what losses are for.”
And now much more important games will begin. Barring the need for a Suffolk Class C final, which would begin Tuesday, May 20, the Lady Whalers will play next in a state regional final on June 7 against the winner of the Section I vs. Section IX game at St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.