Tag Archive | "baseball"

On a Winning Streak


By Andrew Rudansky

Sitting at the top of the order in the second, Pierson’s catcher Aaron Schiavoni started off a five run inning with a powerful shot right above the outstretched mitt of the Greenport Porter’s short stop. The single from Schiavoni was the first of a combined small ball effort by the Pierson Whalers’ varsity baseball team that effectively closed the game out in the second inning.

The game held on Tuesday, April 3 at Mashashimuet park ended in a 6-1 score, giving the Pierson Whalers their fourth straight win of the season.

The game also marked the first time this season that Pierson Athletic Director Montgomery Granger was able to bring in the school’s scoreboard and PA system for the game.

Following Schiavoni’s single, the Whalers were able to bat through their entire lineup in the second inning, including back-to-back RBI triples from second baseman Kyle Sturmann and outfielder Hunter Leyser.

The Whalers were unable to add to this lead in the fourth, when they failed to convert on a bases loaded, one out situation.

Pierson eventually did add to their 5-0 lead in the fourth inning, when Sean Hartnett hit a dribbler up the first base line. He was tagged out at first, however Paul Dorego ran home from third.

Pierson’s ace starter Colman Vilá made sure the Porters were unable to bounce back from this early deficit. In his second start of the season, the junior lefty pitched a one hitter, with 5 strikeouts, and 1 walk. Vilá has continued to impress early in the season, this being his second complete game in as many starts.

“When Colman [Vilá] is on the mound we play a different kind of game,” said Pierson Head Coach Jonathan Tortorella.

Greenport was able to reach the scoreboard only in the sixth inning, when short stop Jake Bennett misplayed a ground ball, allowing a runner on third base to race across home plate.

First baseman Emet Evjen closed the game out in the seventh and final inning when he made a sliding pop fly catch in foul territory in front of the Greenport dugout.

Although the season is still early, the undefeated Whalers can claim first place in League VIII.

Sturmann went 2 for 2 at the plate in the game, adding in 2 RBIs. Evjen went 2 for 3 with an RBI, Leyser went 2 for 4 with an RBI and Schiavoni went 2 for 3.

“Our hitting has been there, but our defense has been a little shaky, we still got to clean it up,” said Tortorella about his team’s performance so far this season.

Greenport’s best hit of the game came in the third inning, when a foul ball soared foul into the parking lot. The ball landed squarely on the windshield of a Black Volkswagen station wagon, cracking the glass. The owner of the vehicle was overheard saying that the car had just been to the shop.

Earlier last week on Friday, March 30 Pierson beat out Smithtown Christian in a League VIII game, 13-8. Despite the win, the Whalers did not walk out of the game unscathed.

Sophomore Forrest Loesch left the game in the third inning with a sprained right shoulder after taking a hit while running from first to second base. After being picked off at first base, Loesch continued to second. While in mid-dive Loesch’s right shoulder made contact with the knee of the awaiting Greenport short stop.

“I didn’t know what happened at first,” said Tortorella about the injury. “[Loesch] jogged off of the field and then I saw him in pain”

Loesch is expected to miss three to four weeks while he undergoes physical therapy.

“Its not that bad, he is going to be ok,” said Tortorella. “But anytime you lose your number three hitter, your short stop and your number two pitcher, it definitely hurts.”

Tortorella said that the loss of Loesch — who is all three of those to the team — provides a challenge and an opportunity for the rest of the team to step up.

Bullpen pitchers Kyle Sturman, Sean Hartnett, Michael Heller and Brendan Hemby will all see an increase in innings.

Pierson traveled to Stony Brook yesterday, April 4 to take on the Bears (0-5). Pierson won 9-0. Pitcher Jake Bennett threw a no-hitter with 11 strike outs. The Whalers next game will be against the Port Jefferson Royals (2-2) this Tuesday, April 10 at 12 p.m.

Season Warm Up

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Boys gearing up in series of scrimmages

by Andrew Rudansky

With most of the team’s pre-season baseball scrimmages out of the way, the Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers are just a few short days away from the home opener. With a completed roster, Whalers Head Coach Jonathan Tortorella’s team, especially its defensive performance, has looked sharp in these friendly scrimmages.

The Whalers saw their first taste of action against the Southampton Mariners on Saturday, March 17. A pair of scrimmages followed against the East Hampton Bonackers, first at home on Monday, March 19, and then at East Hampton on Wednesday, March 21.

Both East Hampton and Southampton are larger Class B schools and in a different league than the Class C Whalers. Pierson/Bridgehampton would not normally play either of these teams in the regular season.

While these scrimmages had no bearing on season standings, and were played with slightly different rules, as per Section XI guidelines, they still presented a great barometer for the upcoming season.

This year the Whalers are lucky to have an older, more experienced roster, one  that includes eight seniors and no freshman.

According to Tortorella, he will have eight pitchers taking turns on the mound as both starters and relievers. Junior Coleman Vilá will be put at the top of the rotation, with Hunter Leyser, Sean Hartnett, Mike Heller, sophomore Forrest Loesch, junior Jake Bennett, sophomore Aaron Schiavoni, and sophomore Kyle Sturmann behind him.

During these pre-season scrimmages, Tortorella was given a first look at how this pitching rotation faired against the big bats of this Class B competition. While many upper-class pitchers like Vilá and Hartnett looked confident while on the mound, the younger pitchers still seemed to be shaken up by the pressure.

Luckily for the team, the defense looked sharp in the scrimmages. Paul Dorego and Schiavoni look to be solid anchors behind the plate at catcher, while on the infield Tortorella has a string of athletic playmakers.

At times during the scrimmages, the Whalers were out-powered at the plate, but were able to make up for it with their speedy defense.

It will be interesting to see if Tortorella can use his team’s defensive capabilities to overcome the power hitting and consistent pitching that his squad is in short supply of.

The Whalers have a final scrimmage before the season officially begins next week. That will be at McGann-Mercy in Riverhead on Friday, March 23 at 4:30 p.m. The season opener pits the Whalers against the Port Jefferson Royals at Mashashimuet Park at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27.

JV: Young Whalers Learn the Game, Again

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By Benito Vila

Every baseball and softball player is familiar with the basics of the game, getting three outs, swinging the bat and running the bases. But growing up, aspects of what happens on the field change every year; the ball comes quicker, the bases seem a bit closer and the competition gets more and more keen.

Every season the Pierson JV teams take on a new character with players moving up from middle school and some going up to varsity. This year both squads also had new coaches, Kathy Amicucci coming back to coach the softball ladies and Henry Meyer coming in to lead the baseball boys.

Both teams had winning records, softball going 11-4 and baseball 14-4, with undermanned squads, softball taking the field only 10 deep at times and baseball doing the same.


The Young Ladies

Coach Amicucci summed up her season saying, “We started out, as the varsity team did, with a smaller than desired turnout. [Varsity coach] Melissa Edwards and I worked with the talent we had and it worked out nicely. We had games I thought we could have won that we didn’t but we also beat a couple teams I wasn’t sure we would.”

In describing individual players, Coach Amicucci acknowledged, “I was happy to see the talent of players like Sami James, Catherine Musnicki and Nina Hemby. I was happier to see all the girls work hard and improve up until the very last game. Sami ended the season with a .460 batting average. Chelsea [Freleng] ended with an impressive .516. Lindsey [Duran] had 101 strikeouts.”

 “But with all the numbers, the thing that stands out the most is the team’s willingness to work. Keriann Fitzpatrick played shortstop, even though she preferred second base because I needed her to. And she always worked hard. Gemma [Gardella] improved every day to become a player that I trusted out on the field. And she hit the ball and advanced runners at almost every at bat.”

Looking ahead to next year, Coach Amicucci likes what she’s seen at the middle school level, suggesting, “I hope we can work something out with the middle schoolers and their late winter basketball season so we can bring up some up next year. The varsity lost a lot of great players and I just hope I did a decent job turning my JV players into effective varsity talent.”


The Future Whalers

Looking back this week, Coach Meyer said he liked how much his club, “wanted to learn the game. We improved every day, from the first day to the end, in the fundamentals we were teaching.”

 “We won a lot of games by doing the things we were capable of; we didn’t have hitters who were driving balls into the gaps. We had to bunt and manufacture runs and it worked when people began to understand their roles in what we were doing.”

Hoping to see his players continue to succeed, Coach Meyer added, “To improve further, our players have to work a lot on conditioning and arm strength, starting now and going through the winter, so that they can make the plays they need to make.

Jake Weingartner led the team at the plate, hitting at a .491 clip with 14 runs batted in. Sean Hartnett finished second in batting, at .400, and first in runs scored with 25, just ahead of Paul Dorego (24) and Weingartner (23).

The team’s individual on-base percentages were gaudy, Brendan Hemby topping that category at .652. Hartnett (.618), Sean Romeo (.608), Jeremy Pepper (.600), Weingartner (.593), Emet Evgen (.581), Donald Doran (.568) and Hunter Leyser (.550) also found their way on base more times than not.

Dorego was behind the plate for most of the season, catching a starting rotation of Weingartner, Doran and Leyser. Sean Romeo, Frank Romeo and Harnett all threw ably in spot starts and in relief.


Whaler Baseball: Errors End Team’s Run for Island Title

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By Benito Vila

All too often the tempo and tenor of a game can turn on a single play. So it was Monday in the Long Island Class C championship, a sinking bases-loaded fly ball eluding the glove of Pierson’s normally reliable center fielder, two runs scoring.

That miscue set mayhem into motion, a dropped flip at second, an elusive high pop on the right side and a throwing error on a steal allowing Nassau Class C champion Oyster Bay to roll up a 6-0 lead in their first at-bat. Senior pitcher Joe Mascali managed to finally work his way out of the first, getting a grounder to third and a strikeout to end the inning.

Though a Mascali double and a Gavin Kudlak groundout scored a run for Pierson in the top of the second, it was not enough to get the Suffolk C champs back in the game. As the innings played out, the Whalers were unable to spoil Baymen pitcher Jake Robinson’s rhythm nor were they able to find theirs, heading home with a rotten 11-1 loss.

The sure-handed play of the Oyster Bay infield offset the Whalers’ swings, shortstop Matt Capozzo scooping up everything hit his way with first baseman Jared Frydman ably handling each infield throw and three tricky grounders. That solid defensive combination helped Robinson settle in and toss an assortment of breaking pitches in sending the Whalers away with just three walks and one hit.


Bright Spots

It’s not that the afternoon was without some bright spots for the Whalers: Mascali, Mahoney and Riva making their plays in the outfield; Kyle McGowin coming into pitch three innings of one-run relief; Tyler Gilbride and Ryan Miller keeping the left side of the infield tight; and catcher Casey Crowley nabbing an out at third with a pump fake to first on a sacrifice bunt.

The loss closes out a 15-10 season for the Whalers, who earned their county title in taking two of three from defending Suffolk champion Port Jefferson. The Class C championship is the third one for Pierson baseball in the last 10 years and will soon be the only “ball” to grace a banner in the gym for a boys’ team this school year.

The season’s other highlights include a doubleheader sweep of eventual league champion Southold, a breakthrough outing on the mound from Crowley after two one-sided losses to Center Moriches and errorless defense in a stretch of mid-season games.

The team came to rely on the pitching of Mascali, McGowin and Crowley, the trio running up a collective 13-7 mark. Mascali was 6-2, McGowin 5-4 and Crowley 2-1. Eddie Schall recorded the other two wins in relief and Brandon Kruel took three hard-luck losses.

Crowley (.315) and McGowin (.313) were the team’s top two hitters, and set the pace in most offensive categories. McGowin led in home runs and runs batted in (2 HRs and 21 RBIs); Crowley contributing one long ball and knocking ten home. Crowley scored 26 runs, Miller following with 16 and McGowin next with 15. Crowley scrambled for 18 steals, Miller and McGowin swiping 12 apiece.


Closing Thoughts

Though the bats were quiet in the last two tournament games, the growing confidence of underclassmen Dane Riva, Gavin Kudlak, Joe Dowling, T.J. Arreguin, Gilbride, Schall and Kruel leave skipper Sean Crowley an experienced core to work with next year. The work put in by Mahoney, George Hoglund, Jeffrey Schimmer and Jim Fusco will make the 2010 squad even stronger, as will the addition of JV players Jake Weingartner, Frank Romeo and Paul Dorego, who were called up for the post-season.

In wrapping up his season, Coach Crowley said, “No matter how you define success, we had a championship season. We had the team concept and senior leadership working all season long at the varsity level and we had program-wide success at the JV and middle school levels. It’s good to know that school age boys want to be a part of Whaler baseball.”

Pierson Set for Oyster Bay after BC Loss

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By Benito Vila

Southampton hurler Chris Pike fired a no-hitter on Friday in the Suffolk County small schools tournament, the Class B champion Mariners ousting the Class C champion Pierson Whalers, 12-0.

The loss eliminated Pierson from the county tournament, but not the state tournament, the Whalers matching up with Nassau Class C champion Oyster Bay on Monday at Fireman Field in Valley Stream at 4 p.m.

Oyster Bay, the reigning Long Island Class B champion, is currently 12-9 overall, after going 10-7 in Nassau Conference BC, most often playing larger schools. The New York State Sportswriters Association ranked the Baymen twentieth in Class C last week and had the Whalers at number ten before Friday’s loss.

Pierson is now 15-9 on the season, having gone 12-6 in league, 1-2 in non-league and sweeping defending champion Port Jefferson 2-0 in the county’s best-of-three Class C series.

The winner of Monday’s contest plays the next day against either the Westchester or Rockland County C champion. The winner of Tuesday’s game goes on to Binghamton for the state semi-finals next weekend.


Pike, Pike and More Pike

Pike’s pitching was masterful Friday, setting down the first six Whalers in order, his teammates building an early 6-0 lead. An error in the top of the third on a Brandon Kruel line drive to left, gave the Whalers some hope, but a ground ball started a second-to-short-to-first double play, stopping Pierson long before it could get anything going.

That error proved to be the only flaw on an otherwise perfect afternoon for the Class B champs and their pitcher, Pike facing only 21 Whalers, the minimum number of batters possible, in notching his no-hitter. Pike also recorded the final putout of the game, covering first as first baseman Alex Antilety’s stop stole away Tyler Gilbride’s bid to break up the no-hitter.

In all, Pike struck out 11 Whalers, with Casey Crowley and Dane Riva being the only Pierson players to ring out line drives, both of those balls being caught on the run in the outfield. It was Pike’s second successful outing against Pierson this year, the junior tossing a one-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts in non-league play in late March. On the season, Pike has gone 7-1 in leading Southampton to a 19-7 mark.

On Tuesday, the Mariners made their way to Islip and came home the Suffolk small schools runner-up, falling behind the Buccaneers 6-0 early on but battling back to a 6-4 final. Southampton plays Nassau B champ Wheatley at 4 p.m. in Hauppauge Monday.


Sights Set

After the loss last Friday Pierson coach Sean Crowley said, “Pike had good stuff and everything lined up for them. They made nearly every play and when they missed one, they turned two [a double play after an error] on the very next batter. We had a couple of seeing-eye singles get through in the first; that gave them a 2-0 lead. Then a three-run homer put us in hole 6-0 and we tightened up. That helped them relax while we struggled.”

“We have our sights set on Oyster Bay now. A win next Monday and we keep playing. We win two and we go to Binghamton. And a four-game win streak gets us the state title. Putting that together is where our focus is.”



Whalers Stun Port Jeff for County Championship

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By Benito Vila

It was over almost as soon as it began Thursday as Pierson outplayed Port Jefferson in game two of the best-of-three Class C championship, taking the county title in a 13-1 rout. The Whalers held off the Royals, 8-6, in the series opener in Mashashimuet Park Tuesday, a nail-biter that ended with the bases full of Royals and the go-ahead run at first base.

Both sides expected much of the same intensity in the rematch at Port Jefferson Thursday, but instead 14 Pierson batters made their way to the plate in the top of the first inning with the Whalers posting eight runs before they even took the field. After retiring the Royals easily in the bottom of the first, the Whalers came in and batted around again, re-taking the field for the bottom of the second up, 12-0.

From there the Pierson boys had an easy time of it, starting pitcher and senior tri-captain Joe Mascali making pitches that further frustrated his Port Jeff hosts. In all, Mascali threw six innings of two-hit ball, striking out four and walking only one. There were no errors in the field behind him, the only miscue coming in the middle innings on a high pop that eluded him although he quickly made up for that from the mound.

Classmate and tri-captain Casey Crowley relieved Mascali for the seventh, struggling with his control at first but finding a way to strikeout the side and set off the Whaler celebration. The one-sided win gives Pierson its eighth county title and its first since 2006 and improves the team’s record to 15-8 overall after a 12-6 season in League VIII play.

On the way home, parents, friends and fans alike organized an impromptu parade, fire department trucks greeting the team bus on the Bridgehampton Turnpike and escorting it up and down Main Street, players hooting, hollering and waving their shirts out the bus’ safety windows. Back at the school, family members gathered for more pictures and a final re-telling of what was a series of odd occurrences that all seemed to benefit the Whalers.

And it all started in that first inning, a lead-off walk to Casey Crowley kicking off a sequence that saw three more walks, two hit batsmen, two errors and some timely hitting. By the end of the 14-batter Whaler first, Crowley had walked and scored twice and Kyle McGowin had two hits and three runs batted in.

McGowin ended the day three-for-three with four RBIs, with Dane Riva, Tyler Gilbride, Gavin Kudlak and senior tri-captain Ryan Miller each coming home with two hits apiece. Riva, McGowin, Miller, Kudlak and first baseman Joey Dowling all made plays in the field that kept the Royals from finding their way around the bases.

The Whalers take on the county’s Class B champion next Friday, May 29, with the winner of that C-at-B game traveling to the Class A champion on Monday, June 1 for the county’s small school title.

Pierson can advance in the state tournament by outlasting Nassau County champ Oyster Bay in the Long Island Class C Championship and Southeast Regional on June 8.

Let the Games Begin: Pierson Opens Class C Championship Today — And Wins!

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By Benito Vila

It’s school budget vote and school board election day throughout New York today and it would seem that hopes and dreams hang in the balance everywhere around the state.

A whole different set of educational intangibles are in play at Mashashimuet Park this afternoon, the 2009 Pierson varsity baseball Whalers hosting the Port Jefferson Royals at 4 p.m. to open the Suffolk County Class C championships. The county title will be bestowed on the winner of a best-of-three series, game two set for Port Jefferson Thursday and game three, if needed, back in the park

Saturday at 11 a.m.

The Whalers took the regular season series, two games to one, winning 4-3 and 5-1 and losing 6-5. The two one-run games were hard-fought nail-biters, both teams playing with an intensity and flair that satisfied coaches and fans on both sides.

It is expected that the teams will send their aces to the mound today, Kyle McGowin for the Whalers and Brendan Duffy for the Royals.

The Whalers completed the season 12-6, third in the league, just ahead of 10-8 Port Jefferson. A pair of Class B schools finished first and second, 14-4 Southold/Greenport earning the tie-breaker over 14-4 Center Moriches.



Not So Perfect Ending for Whalers

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By Benito Vila

It seemed a perfect finish Friday. The Pierson baseball Whalers were on the field in Mashashimuet Park in the top of the seventh, up 5-4, after taking the lead in the bottom of the sixth and needed just three outs to sweep a three-game series from Port Jefferson and move within one game of clinching a playoff berth. 

When Whaler relief pitcher T.J. Arreguin induced the first Royal batter to pop out to Tyler Gilbride at second, a feel-good buzz went through the Pierson crowd on the third base side. That turned out to be the emotional high point for the home team when moments later a three-base error, a pitching change, a walk, a balk and a passed ball left Pierson down 6-5, merriment turned to sudden befuddlement and disbelief.

Coming up in the home half the first, two Whalers went down, but Joey Dowling gave the faithful something to cheer about by lining a single to center. Dane Riva stepped in, worked the count and drilled a ball down the third base line that looked destined for left field. Instead, the ball hit the bag and caromed up generously to the Royals third baseman, who fired across the infield to get Riva by a step for the last out.

The late-inning loss leaves Pierson at 8-4 in League VIII play and 8-6 overall, two wins short a post-season berth in the Suffolk County Class C tournament. The win clinched a spot for the Royals, who at 10-5 are the Whalers’ likely first-round opponent.

The rain Tuesday washed away the opener of a three-game set with 10-2 Southold, the revised schedule calling for the Whalers to host the Clippers yesterday and then travel there Thursday and Friday. Next Tuesday, Pierson has Smithtown Christian coming into the park Tuesday and Friday for a pair of 4:30 p.m. starts, the Whalers traveling to the Crusaders Wednesday. Those six games conclude the varsity regular season.


A Win Away


The Whalers went to play the Royals a roundabout way last Wednesday, an accident on 27 East sending them into Riverhead and getting them to the field 40 minutes late. A 4-3 Pierson win in the series opener the day before shortened the trip a bit and put pressure on Port Jeff to prove themselves.

Both teams moved through the first two frames without scoring, the sun starting to set behind center field. Pierson’s Gavin Kudlak drew a walk to open the Whaler third and Kyle McGowin made the score 2-0 by slicing a home run over the 325’ sign on the fence in right center.

Whaler pitcher Casey Crowley made that lead hold up, he and his fielders setting down the Royal batters without a run through the first five innings. In the top of the sixth, with the sun now directly in the batters’ eyes, Pierson added to their lead, a two-out rally making the score 5-0.

Those three runs came courtesy of a hit batsman, Crowley being plunked on the calf on an errant curveball to get the rally started. Kudlak drew another walk to put runners at first and second for McGowin, who doubled to center to drive in Crowley, Kudlak holding up at third. The pressure on the Royals to keep the game close, Ryan Miller doubled to left to bring in Kudlak and McGowin and put Pierson further ahead.

Before the Royals came to bat, the umpires stopped the game for 20 minutes to allow the sun to set. The first batter to step in against Crowley after the delay homered on the first pitch, but that was all the Royals were able to put together against the Pierson senior who struck out eight, walked four and gave up just three hits in pitching his second complete game win in four days.


A Good Game


A lead-off walk, followed by a stolen base, fielder’s choice and sacrifice fly, put Port Jeff up 1-0 in their first at-bat Friday. Pierson tied the score in their half of the inning, Crowley singling, taking second on a wild pitch, staying there on a walk to McGowin and coming in on an errant double-play attempt.

Whaler starter Joe Mascali, pitching through a hamstring strain, breezed through the second but saw two long hits land in the outfield and the Royals take a 2-1 lead in the third. His teammates put him back in the lead, 3-2, a high-bounding Gilbride chopper off the plate bringing in two runs and making the most of a McGowin walk and a Port Jeff error.

The Whalers extended the lead to 4-2 in the fourth when Mark Mahoney walked and Joe Dowling tripled. When the Whaler side was set down, it marked the fourth consecutive inning a Pierson runner was left in scoring position, an easy event to miss because of the score but one noticed along the foul lines and in the dugouts.

The pain of failing to bring those runners in was felt in the fifth, the Royals tying the score on a single, a walk and a hard hit double. After 85 pitches and a gritty effort, Mascali was relieved for the sixth, Arreguin coming in and setting down the Royals one-two-three.

The crispness of that inning sparked the Whaler attack in the bottom of the sixth, Riva and Crowley working out a pair of one-out walks and a Kudlak RBI single giving Pierson a 5-4 lead. But, once again, just as in the home fifth, Whaler runners were left on second and third, allowing the Royals to keep the game close.


The Unthinkable


When Arreguin retired the first Royal batter in the seventh, all seemed right in the Whalers’ world. The three-base outfield error that followed unnerved the reliever, who sent a pitch halfway up the backstop. That prompted a visit from Pierson coach Sean Crowley, who, in turn, summoned McGowin, from third in hopes of having his “ace” set down the next two Royals hitters for the save.

That was not be, the first Royal batter McGowin faced worked out a walk to put Port Jeff runners at first and third. A walk-off steal of second looked to be of no consequence until McGowin threw to first from the stretch, unaware of the steal, to balk in the tying run.

The Royals then turned to pressure up on the Whalers, a squeeze play seeing the ball bound past Pierson’s catcher as the go-ahead run came in safely, joy turning to a gut-wrenching churn on the Whaler side. McGowin gathered himself on the mound and set down the next two Royals, hoping his teammates could now keep him from a ten-pitch loss.

The throw to nip Riva at first, set off a celebration for the Royals who clinched a playoff berth with their win and left the Whalers to gather at home and consider what could have been. In the quiet there, Coach Crowley complimented his team on their effort and encouraged the Whalers to look for the good in the game.

In talking about the outcome yesterday, Coach Crowley said, “I hope they can now appreciate what they have to do when the pressure gets turned up a notch. We have to focus on every pitch, every situation. Over the years as a coach, I’ve seen kids and teams who don’t take what they’re doing seriously enough. Not this group. If anything, they were too hard on themselves. It’s a tough loss, but we can turn this into a learning experience and, now, with the playoffs starting in two weeks, we already know what it feels like to be in that kind of pressure situation.”



Two Wins Bring Boys to 7-3 in League

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By Benito Vila

This is the week the Pierson baseball Whalers have been preparing for since March. The schedule has them completing a series with Port Jefferson and opening one with Southold/Greenport, two teams that perennially play for the League VIII crown. How the boys fare against this pair has, of late, determined the likelihood of post-season play and defined their ability to compete at a higher level.

A determined 4-3 win over Port Jeff on Tuesday afternoon in Mashashimuet Park, improved the Whalers’ record to 7-3 in League VIII, 8-5 overall, and further demonstrated a playoff potential. Yesterday the boys set off for Port Jefferson for game two of their series with the Royals, looking to move up in the standings and get closer to the second-place Clippers (8-2) and first place Center Moriches (11-1).

Game three of their series with the Royals is set for tomorrow in the park, first pitch at 4:30 p.m. The Whalers make their way to Southold Tuesday to open that series there, playing the Clippers in the park Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. and finishing up away next Friday. Both of the games in Southold also start at 4:30 p.m.


Closing In


Ten league wins are required for post-season play this season and by notching two this week, the Whalers are already closing in on that mark. Last Thursday, the team blew out Stony Brook 15-3, a seven-run sixth inning breaking the game open.

Tuesday’s win was harder to earn, Pierson taking a 1-0 lead in the first, and seeing Port Jeff tie in the fifth. A three-run rally in the bottom of the fifth put the boys up 4-1, but that was barely enough, the Royals scoring twice in the top of the seven and getting runners to first and third before the final out was made.

The Whalers also played a pair of non-league games this week, four Pierson errors leading to a 9-2 loss in Hampton Bays Friday and the Baymen returning the favor in the park Saturday, their late-game fielding giving the boys a 4-3 win.


At Stony Brook


The Stony Brook game saw Pierson take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first Casey Crowley leading off with a single, stealing second, advancing the third on a Gavin Kudlak groundout to the right side and scoring on a Tyler Gilbride single to right. Kudlak preserved that lead by tracking down a deep drive to left in the bottom of the inning and nailing a runner trying to advance to third.

That play set the tone for the day, the Whalers turning three more double plays to keep the Bears from doing much on the bases. Two more came when Stony Brook runners were doubled off on infield line drives and the other came on a ground ball, shortstop Ryan Miller making the pivot on a feed from second baseman Jeff Schimmer.

Miller lifted his team to a 3-0 lead in the second, driving in Brandon Kruel, who had been hit by a pitch, and Dane Riva, who had walked.

Another walk and pair of wild pitches gave Pierson pitcher, Joe Mascali a 5-0 lead to work when he took the mound in the bottom of the inning.

Mascali, coming off a leg injury, threw three innings, striking out four, allowing two runs in the third when the Bears made the most of a pair of walks and a pair of bloop hits. Kyle McGowin came in to pitch three innings of scoreless relief, scattering three hits and two walks. Miller finished the game on the mound, coming in with the score 15-2 and getting the last three outs around a pair of walks and a run-scoring single.

Many of those 15 runs were unearned, the Bears booting balls in the fourth and fifth to put Pierson up 8-2. When a T.J. Arreguin single brought in Kudlak and Gilbride in the sixth, the rout was on, before another Stony Brook error set up a two-run single by Crowley and allowed Kudlak to get up twice in the same inning. In that second at-bat, Kudlak completed the scoring, knocking in a run with his second single of the inning.


Against the Baymen


Pierson’s stellar play in the field Thursday was a thing of the past Friday, a long drive off bouncing off a Whaler outfielder and going over the fence for a home run in the bottom of the first. Another misplayed fly ball and a pair of doubles made the score 3-1 before the inning was done, Whaler pitcher Brandon Kruel striking out a pair to get off the field.

The Baymen gave a run back in the second, a Miller single, a Riva walk and two wild pitches getting the Whalers back on the board. A pair of Baymen doubles made the score 4-2 in the third, but it was five-batter sequence in the fourth that ended the day for Kruel, four more runs coming in on a pair of infield errors.

Kruel started off his final inning well, striking out two of the first three batters, giving him six in three and two-thirds innings of work. He left the game after the second error, his team down 8-2, knowing just two of the eight runs were earned.

Arreguin came in to finish the frame and went on to finish the game, throwing two and two-thirds innings of one-run relief, striking out four and walking no one. But, despite that work, his teammates were unable to cut into the Hampton Bay lead and they all came home with a dispiriting 9-2 loss.

The boys had a chance to bounce back right away Saturday morning, but it wasn’t until the fifth inning when they came to, Hampton Bays already in the lead 3-0 after scoring a run in the first and two more in their fifth.

Arreguin was the whole of the Whaler rally in the fifth, singling with one out, taking third when an effort to pick him off first failed and scoring on a wild pitch.

Pierson closed to within one in a more traditional way in the sixth, McGowin drawing a walk, stealing second, advancing to third on an Ed Schall single and scoring on a fielder’s choice.

Down 3-2 coming into their last at-bat, Pierson tied the score, a pair of walks and an infield error loading the bases and Gilbride stroking a grounder into the middle of the infield, leaving the Baymen to get an out at second rather than at home.

With Crowley on third and Gilbride on first, the pressure was on Hampton Bays to make a play, but that was not to be, a pitch in the dirt getting by the Baymen catcher and Crowley coming in ahead of the throw to the pitcher to give Pierson a 4-3 victory.

It was Crowley who kept his teammates in the game, pitching six innings of four-hit ball, striking out 11 and walking three. Only two of his three runs were earned. McGowin came in to pitch the seventh, giving up a single but setting down the side on three strikeouts, and getting the win when Pierson went ahead.


Port Jeff Tuesday


McGowin was the starter Tuesday and cruised through the first four innings. The Whalers held a 1-0 lead after their first at-bat, Crowley drawing a lead-off walk, advancing to second on a Kudlak sacrifice bunt and scoring on a McGowin double to right. The Royals put a run together in the fifth, a lead-off walk, a stolen base and a single, tying the game.

The game didn’t stay knotted up for long Miller leading off the Whaler fifth with single and stealing second to put the pressure back on Port Jeff. Joe Dowling’s swing had the Royals back, making his little roller unplayable and giving the Whalers runners at first and third with no one out.

A walk to Riva loaded the bases and set up Crowley who delivered a long sacrifice fly to center to put Pierson up 2-1. A Kudlak single to left re-filled the bases, with McGowin stepping in and nailing a single up the middle to make the score 4-1.

The Whaler lead was safe until the seventh when the Royals bunched up two infield hits and two short pokes into the outfield around a pair of force outs to make the score 4-3. That flurry left runners on the corners with two outs, the tying run and third and the go-ahead run at first, McGowin still on the mound and urgency resonate on both sides.

With a 0-1 count, the Royals’ final batter bounced a ball to Gilbride at second who fielded it cleanly and tagged the runner going to second, ending what was a long inning for the Whalers quickly and suddenly curtailing the Royals’ rally.

After the game, Pierson varsity coach Sean Crowley seemed satisfied by his team’s position, saying, “I like 7-3. We’re all feeling good right now and we’re getting closer to where we want to be.”


Team leaders


McGowin leads the team with four wins against one loss, notching 34 strikeouts in 32 innings. Mascali is 3-1 with 18 strikeouts in his 17 innings. Crowley is 1-0 with 16 strikeouts in his 14 innings.

Crowley leads the team in runs scored with 12. He and McGowin have driven in the most, each with eight RBIs. Kudlak’s two hits Tuesday boosted his average to .358 with Crowley close behind at .325.



Whalers: Pain, Win or Lose

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By Benito Vila


It’s something that happens in every season to every team: not everyone is good to go and it’s up to the coach and the players to improvise. That’s when all involved learn the measure of the team and its abilities.

The 2009 Pierson varsity baseball Whalers are in the midst of a nine-game stretch against the top of the league, going into today’s game at Center Moriches 4-2 in League VII and 4-3 overall. A 5-2 win at Stony Brook last Wednesday and a 10-3 loss to Center Moriches in Mashashimuet Park, keep the Whalers’ sights on the post-season but leave them short-handed, injuries and absences limiting who Coach Sean Crowley has available.

When the school vacation left the team without two starters against Stony Brook, the boys battled and took two close games, 2-1 last Tuesday at home and Wednesday’s win away. But late in the game at Stony Brook, it became obvious the Whalers were going to have more holes to plug when starting center fielder and pitcher Joe Mascali went down with a strained hamstring.

That injury left the boys short on the field against undefeated Center Moriches, but not on resolve, the team taking a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first. In gaining the lead, starting pitcher and top hitter Kyle McGowin rolled his ankle while coming into score, limiting his mobility and ability to drive off the mound.

After seeking assistance from the trainer, McGowin pitched through the second, retiring the bottom of the Devils’ line-up in just eight pitches. The injury proved too much in the third and then again in the fourth, the top of the Center Moriches line-up getting on base by pluck, McGowin unable to cleanly field little rollers just off the mound.

With those batters on, the core of the Devils’ line-up came through, a double and a sacrifice fly making the score 4-2 in the third and a long home run leaving the Whalers down 7-2 in the fourth.

Though McGowin was relieved in the fifth, Eddie Schall coming out from behind the plate, he stayed in the game at third base and managed to bring the Whalers to within 7-3 with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth. Another three-run Devil rally in the sixth pushed the score to 10-3, once again the top of the visiting line-up getting on with singles and the bats in the middle driving them in.


Bright Spots


In the win against the Bears last Wednesday, the Whalers played errorless defense and that trend continued for the most part Tuesday, McGowin’s inability to move being the exception. At the same time, the Pierson bats banged out timely hits in both of this week’s games, creating more confidence at the plate throughout the line-up.

The hits started coming for the Whalers at Stony Brook, a run-scoring single by Schall in the fourth following a one-out double by Brandon Kruel. Though Schall was called out at second, Mark Mahoney kept the scoring going on his own, blasting a pitch over the right fielder’s head and beating the throw home easily. Kruel and Schall singles combined to spark another rally in the sixth, Schall driving in two with his shot.

The plays of the game came courtesy of Mascali in centerfield, a throw home nailing a runner attempting to tag up on a fly ball to end the fourth and a diving catch ending the sixth with runners at second and third after Stony Brook had scored two. Those were not the only plays to keep the Bears away from the plate, Mahoney recovering a ball that bounced away in right, relaying it to first baseman Joey Dowling who fired in to Schall at the plate for an out in the fifth.

Schall relieved McGowin at Stony Brook in the seventh and earned a six-batter no-hit save, leaving the bases full on three walks. McGowin came home with the win, going six innings, scattering nine hits, striking out six, walking two and allowing two earned runs.


Hits in Bunches


The timely hitting continued Tuesday in the team’s first turn at-bat, Casey Crowley leading off with a single up the middle, advancing to third on a wild pick-off attempt and McGowin singling him home with a line drive to right. An infield single by Schall put pressure on the Devils, who then misplayed a Kruel grounder to score McGowin and give Pierson a 2-1 lead.

Down 7-2 in the sixth, Crowley sparked another rally with a one-out single. Gavin Kudlak followed with a double down the left field line and McGowin drove Crowley in with a soft single. But that’s when the hits stopped coming, a swinging strikeout and a ground ball ending the inning.

The Whalers are home again tomorrow at 4:30 p.m., hosting Center Moriches in the final game of that series. Monday the boys go back to Stony Brook to make-up a game rained out last week and Wednesday they are in the park against Hampton Bays in non-league action.


JV Rolls On


The Whaler JV kept up its winning ways, outscoring Stony Brook at home last Wednesday by more than 15 runs and coming away from Center Moriches ahead 8-1. The team is 5-0 in league play and 5-1 overall.

The JV plays in Center Moriches tomorrow, at home Monday against Stony Brook and in Hampton Bays Wednesday.