By Jesse Rosenthal
The 2010 season marks a changing of the guard at field level for the Pierson baseball Whalers, with Jonathan Tortorella taking over coaching duties from 22-year Whaler veteran Sean Crowley. Benito Vila will be returning for his 2nd year as assistant coach.
In Crowley’s last year, the Whalers posted a 12-6 regular season record and defeated Port Jefferson in two straight games to become the Suffolk County champs. The Whalers 2009 season ended in a disappointing 11-1 postseason loss to Nassau Class C Champions Oyster Bay in the State Tournament.
In his first season running the show at the varsity level, coach Tortorella is looking for his players to become a cohesive, focused unit and improve on last year’s success. With a variety of weapons at their disposal, the Whalers are poised for such improvement.
“There are several returning players from last year which gives us a pretty experienced team,” said Tortorella. “We’ll need to rely on our leadership in order for us to achieve success. It’s all going to come down to discipline and attention to detail. How we go about our business every day will determine how our season ends up.”
Although departed seniors Casey Crowley, Joe Mascali and Ryan Miller were pivotal cogs in the Whaler wheel last season, Coach Tortorella has an abundance of both young and returning talent to cultivate. Returning seniors Ed Schall, Joe Dowling, Dane Riva and Jeff Schimmer will play key rolls this season. And don’t forget about Kyle McGowin who led the team in both home runs and runs batted in (2 HRs and 21 RBIs), slugging his way to a .313 avg.
Defensively, expect depth. By the time this goes to print, the boys will have practiced only a handful of times, but Coach Tortorella is optimistic.
“I’m really looking forward to the season,” he said. “We have a good number of guys who have been working really hard over the last few days. There is a lot of depth at several positions and we are looking forward to see who steps up.”
There is no shortage of talent winding up on the mound this season either. McGowin pitched over 50 innings in 2009, winning six games as a junior. Rounding out what coach Tortorella hopes will be a nine or 10 deep rotation, will be TJ Arreguin, Brandon Kruel, Eddie Schall, Gavin Kudlak, Jake Federico, Jake Weingartner and Donald Doran.
Completing the roster are seniors Cesar Banados, George Hoglund, and Christian Gonzalez and Juniors Dylan Hmielenski, Frank Romeo, Tyler Gilbride and Lukas Wheeler.
With depth in the field and on the mound and a solid lineup in place, Coach Tortorella is gearing up for a fantastic season.
“We are very excited for this year. The weather has been great, the boys are ready to go and we cannot wait to start playing,” he said.
Look for tough divisional competition from Center Moriches, Mercy, Port Jefferson, Southold, and also Smithtown-Christian who handed the Whalers one of their six losses last season.
The first scrimmage is at home against East Hampton on Monday, March 22 at 4:30 p.m., followed by scrimmages at Southampton and Hampton Bays. The season opener is at Center Moriches on Tuesday, April 6 at 4:30 p.m. It is the first of a three game series.