By Gavin Menu
Wind gusts pushed temperatures below freezing at Mashashimuet Park Monday afternoon, but Colman Vila came out on fire regardless. The Whalers’ lefty ace struck out 15 batters and allowed just two hits as Pierson blanked visiting Smithtown Christian, 1-0, to open the 2013 campaign.
Junior catcher Aaron Schiavoni drove in Vila with a single in the fifth inning to provide the only run of the game and give Pierson an important win over a team thought to be one of the biggest obstacles to Pierson’s hope of repeating as league champion this year.
“They’re probably the best team we’ll face all season,” Vila said afterwards, seemingly unfazed by his latest pitching gem. “I think we’re ready to go into the season.”
Monday’s frigid temperatures had spectators wrapped in blankets, wearing heavy coats and wondering when spring weather would arrive to accommodate the start of baseball season. For Vila, though, it was business as usual.
“I don’t mind, “ he said, “I actually like pitching in bad weather.”
One-by-one, Vila sat down Knights hitters using primarily his fastball in the difficult conditions. After allowing a no-out single to Smithtown catcher Timmy Gorton in the second inning, Vila struck out the side with blazing fastballs. He returned in the third inning and retired the side again on three straight strikeouts.
“He knows how to pitch,” Pierson head coach Jon Tortorella said when asked about Vila’s performance. “He knows what works and what doesn’t work and he finds a way to make it happen.”
Smithtown starter Jake DiNozzi was impressive in the game as well, notching 10 strikeouts of his own while allowing just four hits to Vila – who hustled out an infield single in the third inning – Schiavoni, Jack Fitzpatrick and Nick Kruel. Designated hitter Tim Markowski hit a deep fly ball that allowed Vila to move to third base in advance of Schiavoni’s clutch RBI hit.
“It’s early in the season and that’s a good baseball team,” Tortorella said. “We haven’t seen a lot of pitching yet but we did hit well in our scrimmages and it will come around.”
Pierson played at Southold yesterday, March 27, and will be on the road again on Monday, April 1, at Greenport at 4:30 p.m.