By Gavin Menu
Crowds filled the stands at Mashashimuet Park Monday afternoon with the arrival of spring weather making it feel—at long last—like baseball season could officially begin in Sag Harbor. The Whalers did their part and contributed to the jovial atmosphere by scoring five first-inning runs on their way to a 12-0 victory over visiting Southold.
“The biggest thing for us is every time we go into a game we need to let the other team know that we’re there ready to compete,” Whalers head coach Jon Tortorella said. “And we did that right away.”
Pierson-Bridgehampton improved to 6-0 on the season and lefty ace Colman Vila moved his record to a perfect 3-0 as he allowed just two hits while striking out 13 to pick up the win.
The Whalers jumped all over Southold starter Matt Stepnoski from the opening pitch, with sophomore Jack Fitzpatrick starting the rally early with a lead-off walk. Vila reached on a perfectly-placed bunt single and Tim Markowski followed with a single to right field. Junior slugger Aarron Schiavoni knocked a single to right field that scored two runs and Forrest Loesch followed with a monster shot to right center that nearly rolled to the Sag Harbor Turnpike for a three-run home run.
With the Whalers’ offense on fire for the remainder of the day—they added two more runs in the third inning and five more in the fourth—Vila and the Pierson defense took care of the rest.
“We knew we had it in us, it was just a matter of sometimes trying to do too much,” Tortorella said when asked about the team’s offensive explosion. “I’m most happy with the good balanced approach they’ve had. What I’ve told them is, ‘It’s a simple thing, just don’t make it harder on yourself.’”
Earlier in the week, Pierson picked up a 13-3 win over Shelter Island on April 4, with senior Jake Bennett picking up the win. Schiavoni had three hits and three RBI while Loesch and Nick Kruel had three hits and two RBI apiece.
On April 5, Pierson blanked visiting Stony Brook, 5-0, with Loesch picking up his first win of the season on the mound. Throwing his trademark knuckleball, Kruel came on in relief and needed only nine pitches to close out the final two innings.
“We knew going in that pitching has been a strength,” Tortorella said. “And it’s been a collective effort. They throw strikes, they keep hitters off balance and they hit their spots. It’s not every year you have three starters and then you can take a bull pen guy and you know they could easily be your starter as well. It’s huge to have that because there’s no pressure on your pitchers.”
Tortorella expected some tougher competition in the days and weeks to come, with the final game of the Southold series coming on the road today, April 11, at 4:30 p.m. followed by a three-game series starting this Monday, April 15, at Smithtown Christian at 4:30 p.m.
“We’ll be tested every day,” Tortorella said. “It’s just a matter of how we respond.”