By Jesse Rosenthal
The boys are back. Coming off a heartbreaking 12-10 defeat to finish out their series with Port Jefferson, The Pierson Whalers baseball team came alive against Southold at home on Tuesday with a 6-3 victory, recording their first win of the regular season. Their second win came Wednesday night against Southold again, 2-1, with Kyle McGowin on the mound.
Friday’s loss, which came down to league rules tipping the scales in Port Jefferson’s favor, was close to say the least. After hot bats from Port Jeff in the first inning left the Whalers with a seven run deficit, they fought their way back to tie the score at 10-10 after five innings. “We had a very shaky first inning,” said Coach Tortorella. “But we battled and played some good baseball after that. They boys looked really sharp and started to gain some confidence.”
Unfortunately, the boys fell victim to circumstance. After giving up two runs in the bottom of the sixth to make it 12-10, Pierson tied it at 12 in the top of the seventh, but the game was called due to darkness. League rules state that the score reverts back to the 6th inning, so the game was recorded as an anticlimactic 12-10 loss for Pierson. Coach Tortorella was disappointed but remained positive.
“We should be proud of ourselves,” he said. “We never gave up. It is unfortunate how it played out but that doesn’t take anything away from what we did.”
In Tuesday’s matchup against Southold, the Whalers got themselves a win before sunset. After giving up one run in the top of the first on a single, a stolen base and a sacrifice fly, the Whalers tied it up in the bottom half with a lead-off single from Tyler Gilbride who stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and tagged up to score on a sac fly from Dane Riva.
Starting pitcher Brandon Kruel was on the mark for his Whalers in the second inning, throwing strikes and getting the necessary backup from his infield and outfield. Jake Weingartner, who played solid defense at third base all day, took care of out number two and Dane Riva made an outstanding catch in left field to end the inning.
Southold pitcher C.J. Nicholas turned on the junk in the bottom of the second, striking out two batters with a nasty change-up and setting up his offense for a chance to capitalize.
In the top of the third Southold got a hold of Kruel’s fastball for the first (and last) time of the day. After the Clippers’ lead-off batter made it to second on an error in left field and scored on a double, Joey Dowling came off the bag to make a great tag on the next batter and get the first out. A single to center field scored one more making it 3-1 Clippers. Southold, however, would get no more love on the day from Kruel or the Whalers defense.
After an uneventful bottom three and top four, in which Kruel struck out one and got a little help from his friends Jake Weingartner at third and Kyle McGowin in center field, opportunity knocked for Pierson. More importantly, they opened the door.
A grounder to second and a throwing error put the speedy Jake Federico on second, and Joey Dowling was hit by a pitch (that he shrugged off like a mosquito bite), to set up Gavin Kudlak. Kudlak lay down a textbook bunt to load the bases. With one out, Tyler McGowin stepped up and capitalized. A long fly ball, officially a double to center field and an overthrow at third base resulted in an unconventional inside the park grand slam making it 6-3 Whalers.
Solid pitching from Kruel gave the Pierson three-up three-down in the top of both five and six. Seven saw only one Southold baserunner as the Whalers stuck a fork in their first win of the season.
After wrapping up the Southold series at home on Friday, the boys enter a three game series with Smithtown Christian beginning away on May 4. Smithtown is 3-4 this season.