By Benito Vila
Abundance is a good thing for the most part, but unexpectedly having more of something often means having to make changes. So it was for Pierson varsity baseball coach Sean Crowley on Monday as he planned the team workout in Mashashimuet Park.
Setting up a drill to prepare all his pitchers on how to best handle plays to different bases, Coach Crowley said, “I’ve never had eight pitchers before. This will be different.” Finding a way to rotate everyone through Monday came easy enough and that should also be the case this weekend, with scrimmages back-to-back Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.
The pre-season opener is set for the park tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. against Southampton; Saturday’s first pitch is scheduled for 10 a.m. in East Hampton. The team is due to back home Wednesday to host Hampton Bays in a final scrimmage at 4 p.m. and takes on Southampton again in a non-league match-up next Saturday morning. The Whalers open league play away Tuesday, March 31 at Mercy.
Last year’s team learned some hard-luck lessons through a series of one-run extra-inning losses, going 9-12 in league play and 10-12 overall. Back from that squad are seniors Casey Crowley, Joe Mascali and Ryan Miller. Also returning are juniors Joe Dowling, Brandon Kruel and Kyle McGowin. New to the varsity this spring are juniors T.J. Arreguin, Jim Fusco, George Hoglund, Mark Mahoney, Dane Riva, Eddie Schall and Jeff Schimmer and sophomores Tyler Gilbride and Gavin Kudlak.
Coach Crowley likes what he’s seen so far from his three senior captains, finding them bringing a purposeful determination to drills and seeing them taking on new positions in the field.
“We’re a bit deeper than we’ve been of late, and not just on the mound,” said the coach. “We have players this year that can play a variety of positions and that will help us as we get into our schedule.”
To make the county playoffs, the Pierson boys must post a better-than-.500 mark. Coach Crowley expects Center Moriches, Port Jefferson and Southold-Greenport to be the toughest teams in league play and recognized that private school opponents Mercy, Smithtown Christian and Stony Brook could have added new talent.
When asked to name the key leaders for the season, Coach Crowley quickly replied, “The three seniors, Dowling, McGowin and Kruel. They’ve been out there before and they know what’s expected of them. I know they’ll bring the rest of the team to where it needs to be.”
The JV team lost one of its most enthusiastic players during practice Saturday, freshman Michael Heller breaking his foot in a slide into second base. Out for the season, and perhaps even summer league play, Heller is hoping to be with the team for its first scrimmages this weekend.
Making up the full JV roster are sophomores Donald Doran, Frank Romeo, Jake Weingartner and Lukas Wheeler and freshmen Canaan Campbell, Harley Decker, Paul Dorego, Emet Evgen, Sean Hartnett, Brendan Hemby, Hunter Leyser, Jeremy Pepper and Sean Romeo.
Former Bonac and Pace University standout Henry Meyer is leading the team as a first-year Pierson coach, with Paul Dorego and John Romeo serving as full-time assistant coaches. Coach Meyer plans to use the pre-season “to see who can pitch and will get everyone to throw a little bit” in trying to set up his rotation. He’s also looking to fill his outfield slots by finding “who will go and get it.”