By Gavin Menu
Cheers erupted from the Greenport dugout Monday afternoon as a groundball rolled toward Pierson second baseman Kyle Sturmann for a routine out. It was that kind of day for the visiting Porters.
Colman Vila dominated for Pierson (11-1, League IX), just as he has done all season, striking out 13 batters over five innings as the Whalers bounced back from their only loss of the season, a 4-2 setback to Smithtown Christian on April 19. Pierson dominated Monday afternoon with a 16-0 win over Greenport (5-7) to open a three-game series with the North Fork rival at Mashashimuet Park.
Leadoff hitter Jack Fitzpatrick went 3-for-5 with a triple, two runs scored and an RBI. Tim Markowski went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored and each time the Whalers erupted on offense, which they did often thanks to a slew of errors by the Porters, Vila would take the mound in the following half-inning and completely shutdown the Greenport attack.
Throwing his trademark knuckleball, Nick Kruel pitched two shutout innings in relief to close out the game.
“The hard part is trying to still play the game the right way,” Pierson head coach Jon Tortorella said. “When you see another team making mistakes like that, it’s easy to play outside yourself. It’s very important we still understand the right away to play, and we did that.”
In last Friday’s loss to Smithtown Christian, Crusaders ace Jake DiNozzi pitched a complete game four-hitter, allowing just two earned runs while striking out 10. Forrest Loesch started for the Whalers and gave up all four runs in the first four innings, two of which were the result of errors. In the top of the fourth, Loesch and Aaron Schiavoni knocked in runs to bring the Whalers within a run at 3-2, but the Crusaders added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth inning and DiNozzi took it from there. Vila came on and pitched in relief with two shutout innings, but the Whalers were unable to put together another threat at the plate.
“It was really good pitching,” Tortorella said, giving credit to DiNozzi. “Forrest did a great job too. In those games it’s going to come down to one or two plays. We made two defensive mistakes, and it was really the only two mistakes we made all day. “
Pierson still won two-out-of-three games in the series with the second-place Crusaders (8-3) and now the Whalers seem like a lock to win another league title with just seven games remaining against Greenport, Shelter Island and Stony Brook, teams with a combined 8-26 record as of Tuesday.
“The one thing about this group is we’re taking it game by game,” Tortorella said. “The loss itself isn’t necessarily a good thing, but knowing what it’s like to be down and have to fight back, to have that is good. And more import, we understand playoff-wise, we’re going to face some really good teams down the line. As long as we keep getting better, and doing the right things, we’ll be fine.”
The Whalers, who hosted the Porters again yesterday after press time, will wrap up that series at Greenport today, April 25, at 4:30 p.m. before opening a three-game set with Shelter Island at home on April 29 at 4:30 p.m.
The Suffolk County Class C playoffs are tentatively set to begin on May 20.