Tag Archive | "Jonathan Tortorella"

Boys Take Game One

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Pierson’s Hunter Leyser beats the throw to first in the Whalers’ 1-0 victory over Southold at Mashashimuet Park on Wednesday, May 23. Andrew Rudansky photo.

Pierson’s Hunter Leyser beats the throw to first in the Whalers’ 1-0 victory over Southold at Mashashimuet Park on Wednesday, May 23. Andrew Rudansky photo.

Whalers up one in a best of three series

by Andrew Rudansky

The Pierson Whalers took the first game of the best-of-three playoff series with the Southold Settlers, 1-0. The low scoring game, held on Wednesday, May 23 at Mashashimuet Park was the product of a defensive effort by both teams.

With the win, the Whalers are one step closer to being crowned the Suffolk County Class C champions. The winner of the series will move on to the Long Island Class C game later in June.

Frustration had settled in for both teams leading up to the finals, as rain delays pushed game one back on two successive days this week.

The Pierson Whalers were originally slated to host Southold in game one of the best of three series on Monday, May 21 at Mashashimuet Park. That game was cancelled by officials hours before the scheduled start time due to scattered showers.

The same happened when the rescheduled date for game one, Tuesday, May 22, was similarly cancelled due to rain delays.

Whalers Head Coach Jonathan Tortorella said that the rain delays could have been a blessing in disguise, as they gave the Whalers a few extra days to practice.

“We are better after these two days of practice, we got a lot of stuff worked out in that time,” he said.

Tortorella said the extra time afforded to the team by the rain delays has also allowed some of his injured players time to heal. He said that he has as many as 12 players on the roster who he could use as starters in the playoffs.

The extra days off seemed to do the trick, as the Whalers looked sharp in all aspects of their game.

Lefty strikeout artist Colman Vilá started the game for the Whalers. Vilá has been dominant on the mound all season, winning all seven of his starts.

In Wednesday’s game Vilá effectively managed the game through all seven innings, not allowing a run while tallying seven strikeouts.

The lefty did slow down in the later innings of the game, but later ended the match with two back-to-back strikeouts in the top of the seventh inning.

“If he is keeping guys off base, I don’t care about strikeouts. With a team like Southold they are going to put the ball in play,” said Tortorella. “I thought he was as good as he has been all year.”

The Whalers scored in the bottom of the third inning when Forrest Loesch hit a grounder to the second baseman. A wild throw to first base attempting to get Loesch out, allowed Hunter Leyser to run home from third base.

The Whalers were put in danger in the top of the sixth inning, with runners on first and second with no outs. The Whalers defense —  including Vilá’s great play throwing out a runner at third — was able to hold the Settlers at bay, leaving two runners stranded.

“Kyle [Sturmann] was great at second base, Aaron [Schiavoni] was awesome behind the plate, Colman [Vilá] fielded his position, there wasn’t that many hits into the outfield, so overall I think it was a great day defensively,” said Tortorella.

The Whalers reached the Class C playoffs this year after posting a stellar 18-2 regular season performance. The 18 wins allowed the Whalers to run away with the league IX title, their first in over a decade.

The Southold Settlers placed third in League IX, after they closed out their season with a respectable 13-7 record. Southold was one of only two teams this season to hand Pierson a loss in the regular season. That Settler win came on April 21, when a late inning grand slam by Southold put the Whalers away in their first loss of the season, 4-8.

This season Pierson won the regular season head-to-head series 3-1.

With game one now in the books, the Whalers will next travel to Southold for game two today, May 24 at 4 p.m. Pierson’s Jake Bennett is scheduled to pitch in the game.

Game three, if it is necessary, will be played at Mashashimuet Park on Tuesday, May 29 at 4 p.m.

“Is there pressure on them, yeah, but there is also pressure on us tomorrow as well, because we don’t want a game three,” said Tortorella.

Power in the Bullpen

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Whalers sitting in first place in League IX

By Andrew Rudansky

It seems that the rich just keep getting richer, at least when it comes to the bullpen of the Pierson varsity baseball team this year.

Already in first place of League IX, coming off a series win over Smithtown Christian, the Pierson Whalers are expecting several pitchers to return from the disabled list.

Whalers Head Coach Jonathan Tortorella said that both sophomore righty Forrest Loesch and senior lefty Brendan Hemby are ready to return to the mound this week.

“We needed some depth out of the bullpen,” said Tortorella. “We had a lot of questions, but thankfully our defense has picked it up big time.”

Most recently the team took two out of three games in a series with second- place Smithtown Christian (11-4). The teams split the first two games of the series, each winning a game by only one run.

On Friday, April 27 the Whalers won the final game of that series, again in another razor-thin 9-8 decision.

Aaron Schiavoni was given the start for the Whalers. The sophomore managed the game through four innings, allowing 6 runs before he was replaced with Tim Markowski. Markowski was credited with the win, his first ever on the varsity stage, while reliever Jake Bennett was awarded the save.

The final game went back and forth between the two teams until a sacrifice RBI to centerfield by Pierson/Bridgehampton’s Michael Heller in the bottom of the sixth let Paul Dorego tag up and score the winning run.

Smithtown Christian had one final chance to even up the score in the top of the seventh when a deep ball sent to right field looked to be enough to send a runner home from second. Colman Vilá fielded the ball in right field and flung it towards home. Schiavoni was their at the plate to beat the runner with the tag, causing the third and final out of the game.

Schiavoni led the team at the plate going 3-4, with 2 runs, 2 RBIs and a double. Sean Hartnett went 2-2 at the plate, with 2 walks, 2 RBIs, and 2 stolen bases. Hunter Leyser went 2-4 with a stolen base and a run.

“It’s good right now to be tested by a team like Smithtown Christian,” said Tortorella, “because we cruised through some games early and we weren’t really tested.”

The Whalers started a three game series with the Greenport Porters at home on Wednesday, May 2. The Whalers took the game 9-3, improving to a record of 13-2. Junior lefty Colman Vilá was credited with the win.

The series against Greenport continues today, May 3, when the team travels to the North Fork at 4:30 p.m. Tomorrow, May 4 at 4:30 the Whalers will finish the Greenport series away.

New Skipper Picked for Pierson Baseball

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web tortorella

By Benito Vila

The Brooklyn and Los Angles Dodgers had only two managers from 1954 to 1996; the Boston Red Sox had only three left fielders from 1939 to 1989. While the names of Hall-of-Fame managers Walter Alston and Tom Lasorda mean nothing to today’s high school players, the plaques of Ted Williams, Carl Yazstremski and Jim Rice mean only a little more.

This coming spring the Pierson baseball Whalers will see a change on the field, one era ending and perhaps another beginning. On Monday night the Sag Harbor district school board accepted the appointment of middle school physical education instructor Jonathan Tortorella to the varsity baseball coaching position. That appointment leaves long-time Whaler coach Sean Crowley on the sidelines for the first time in 22 years.

Crowley came on to lead the baseball program for the first time in the spring of 1988, after joining the district as an elementary school physical education instructor in the fall of 1987. As the Pierson skipper, Crowley tallied 204 wins against 271 losses, leading his team to nine league and regional championships.

The most recent championship was posted this past spring, seniors Casey Crowley, Joe Mascali and Ryan Miller leading the Whalers to the county Class C title. That 2009 team put together a 12-6 regular season and swept two games from Port Jefferson for the crown.


Just as Alston had 23 consecutive one-year contracts before Dodger management made the move to Lasorda, Crowley has had 22 consecutive appointments to the varsity position, often without another district candidate applying for the assignment.

This year, Tortorella applied for the position, both he and Crowley interviewing before a committee made up Pierson Athletic Director Montgomery Granger, an administrator and a teacher. While there has been much speculation on why Tortorella was selected, it is fact that the committee made a unanimous recommendation to district superintendent Dr. John Gratto.

At the board meeting Monday, Crowley spoke on his own behalf, expressing well-worded disappointment but ultimately encouraging this year’s team to rally around their new coach. In closing, he mentioned the year 2032, 23 years from now, hoping his replacement has “as much success and fulfillment.”

Despite Crowley’s achievements, which include setting an all-time high for wins by any Pierson baseball coach, there are many who have not liked his managing style. He made mention of that in his remarks and cautioned that parental communication was a “slippery slope.”

An Awkward Moment

After Crowley’s speech and after the board stepped through its agenda, which included the acceptance of Tortorella’s nomination, board president Walter Wilcoxen opened the meeting to questions from the floor. In the course of that discourse, which covered many topics, Jeffrey Peters, Tom Gleeson and Walter Tice all spoke kindly of Coach Crowley and his contribution to the community.

Tice admonished the board for not making more of Crowley’s achievements, suggesting it should have amended its agenda to “include a motion of gratitude for the years of service given.”

That statement, preceded by a pointed assessment of how poor the relationship between the board and its employees has become [in the context of the teacher contract negotiations], caused board member Dan Hartnett to make a motion to do as Tice suggested.

The motion was immediately seconded by Ed Haye, but no one on the board spoke up or thanked Coach Crowley, leaving those assembled awkwardly waiting for something to be said and wondering aloud why nothing was done.

The long and short of Monday’s meeting remains that Pierson will have a new baseball coach for only the third time since 1969, Bob Vishno preceeding Crowley and staying through the 1987 season. That continuity is remarkable considering how much movement there has been in the district’s other academic and extra-curricular appointments in that time.

Still, Coach Tortorella is not new to the Pierson baseball program. He led a middle school team to a 9-1 mark last spring and coached much of this year’s varsity to a 13-3 mark at the JV level in 2008.

Coach Tortorella is a 1999 graduate of Southampton High School. He, like Crowley, is a graduate of Springfield College, earning his master’s degree there after undergraduate studies at the University of Massachusetts.

Jonathan Tortorella (top right) will be the new Pierson varsity baseball coach.

Sean Crowley (inset) led the Pierson Whalers baseball team for 22 years.