Whalers best Royals in season’s closest game
By Andrew Rudansky
It took three pitchers, 11 innings and one well placed hit to deep center field, but the Whalers baseball team was able to stave off the Port Jefferson Royals in a three and a half hour marathon game late last week.
By the time the Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers were traveling up to Port Jefferson on Friday April, 13, they had already handily defeated the Royals three times this year.
This fourth and final game of the series between the two teams looked to be a forgone conclusion. The Whalers had outscored the Royals 27-8 in their three previous games. The Whalers were white-hot, cruising through a still-undefeated season, their best in well over a decade, while the Royals (3-6) were still dwelling in the cellar of League IX standings.
But from the start of the game it was the Royals that looked to be the world beaters, relying on stellar pitching and consistency at the plate to outshine the visiting Whalers. To add to their woes, the Whalers were playing down three players, two of them starters.
Despite this the Whalers were able to make a late surge to scrape by with a 9-8 victory, sweeping the series.
Sophomore Aaron Schiavoni started the game on the mound for Pierson/Bridgehampton. The righty had trouble containing the Royals lineup, allowing them to jump out to an 8-6 early lead by the end of the third inning.
Junior Colman Vilá took over pitching duties for the Whalers in the bottom of the fourth inning, allowing Schiavoni to move to his natural position at catcher. After knocking around the Whalers for the first three innings, the Royals were unprepared for the star lefty, who pitched lights out for the next seven innings.
While Vilá out-pitched the Royals offense from the mound, the Whalers were still unable to make up their two run deficit as the game went into the final inning.
Staring defeat in the face in that seventh and final inning, the Whalers bats showed up right in the nick of time. With two outs, Vilá hit a double, deep into centerfield. Tim Markowski followed this by battling his way to a full count before he was walked, putting the tying run on first base.
Schiavoni, who struggled on the mound earlier in the game, came through with a monstrous 2 RBI double to deep centerfield. The ball rolling into the outfield fence before being fielded.
The Whalers bench erupted in cheers as Vilá and Markowski trotted into home plate for the tie. Out on second base Schiavoni pointed a single finger up into the sky.
The Whalers, one out away from riding home on the bus in defeat, were now tied 8-8.
The game wasn’t called until the eleventh inning when the team captain, senior Sean Hartnett, came to the plate with bases loaded and two outs.
Hartnett hit a dribbler to the second baseman and took off sprinting towards first base. The toss to first was high causing the baseman to hop into the air to make the catch. Hartnett was called safe after making contact with the base right before the baseman descended to the ground.
His RBI single sent sophomore Kyle Sturmann home, giving the Whalers just enough to close out the game with a 9-8 win.
Jake Bennett was brought in as the closer in the bottom of the eleventh, and he promptly retired three batters to end the game. Vilá was credited with the win in the game.
Prior to Friday’s game against the Royals, the Whalers had won every one of their games this season by a margin of five or greater.
This razor-thin win gives the Whalers an 8-0 record so far this season, their best start to a season in recent memory. While the results of the second half of the season remain a mystery, it wouldn’t be outlandish to start thinking about playoffs.
The Whalers also had a game against Southold at home, the start of a three game series between the two teams, yesterday, Wednesday, April 18. The results of that game were not known as of press time.
The Whalers finish their series against the Southold Settlers this coming week. They will travel to Southold on Friday, April 20 at 4:30 p.m. and then again the following day, April 21 at 1 p.m.