By Gavin Menu
Sandi Kruel could not escape work early enough last Wednesday afternoon to drive and see her son, Nick, play the biggest baseball game of his career to date in upstate New York. So she and her husband, Kevin, did what any dedicated, baseball-loving family would do to alleviate the unfortunate circumstance.
They arranged for a plane.
Kruel shortened what would have been a four-hour drive to 25 minutes through the air and arrived in Wappingers Falls in time to see the Whalers’ 5-4 win over Haldane High School, which advanced the team to a New York State Class C semifinal on Saturday, where they fell, 1-0, to Seton Catholic Central.
Kruel made the trip in time to see her son stroke the first of three hits he would record that day, making what was a somewhat frightening plane ride worth every minute.
“How could I miss the game,” Kruel asked on Friday in Binghamton, after having settled for a nearly six hour drive to the state semifinal. “My husband called a co-worker, Paul Blodorn, and his friend, Pat Bistrian, who owns a Cessna airplane. I am so blessed to have the husband and friends that I do.”
It was a travel-filled week for parents of the Pierson-Bridgehampton baseball and softball teams, which advanced to the state final four together on the same weekend for the first time in school history.
Bob Faraguna, whose son, Joe, plays third base and designated hitter for the Whalers, made the trip upstate with a 75 year-old Pierson jersey, which he unwrapped and hung in the dugout during Saturday’s game.
“I told them they were playing for 75 years of Pierson baseball,” Faraguna said.
Rich Schiavoni, as usual, had all four teams in the Class C bracket scouted out well beforehand. Before watching his son, Aaron, play against Seton Catholic, he predicted the winner from that game would easily win the state final, which is exactly how things played out as Seton Catholic went on to beat Geneseo, 9-0.
The entire weekend was filled with emotional ups and downs, and intense variations of weather. The playoffs got off to a rocky start with both the baseball and softball teams having games cut short because of rain. Both teams went on to defeat Port Jefferson to win Suffolk County Class C crowns.
The baseball team’s Long Island Championship game was postponed as well because of rain, but the Whalers came back a day later with Colman Vila pitching a no-hitter to pick up the win. As usual, a strong contingent of Pierson fans were in the stands to watch the game at Farmingdale State College.
Then the faithful were split on June 5, with the boys heading to Dutchess County Stadium in Wappingers Falls and the girls to North Rockland High School in Westchester County. Both beat Haldane High School to advance to the state final four.
Following those championship games, the players and coaches paraded down Main Street and arrived back in Sag Harbor with escorts from the Sag Harbor fire and police departments. The teams rolled in together shortly before midnight on June 5 after winning the regional finals and the village was lit up in a parade of red, as fire engines could be heard as far away as North Haven and Noyac, prompting concerned citizens to make calls the following day to see if Main Street might have burned to the ground.
More downpours arrived on Friday as friends and family headed north for the biggest spring sports weekend in Pierson history. And whether it was driving into the night through the green-covered mountains of Western New York to watch baseball play for a state title or up the Hudson River through driving rain to watch softball do the same, the Pierson faithful made it perfectly clear this week that no journey is too far when monumental achievements are in store for their beloved Whalers.