By Benito Vila
Once the game has a hold on you, it’s hard to let go. That was evident Sunday when 14 alumni and “friends of Pierson baseball” gathered for the 10th annual Robert Vishno, Jr. Hardball Classic, a scholarship fundraiser hosted by Pierson coach Sean Crowley.
The turnout necessitated some creative team-making but everyone involved was willing to fill in when needed to make the fielding team whole and no one minded the extra at-bats. The game came down to the afternoon’s final at-bat, Mike Semkus stroking a single to right to bring in the winning run on his 22nd birthday.
Paul Dorego ripped a pair of balls into the right center field alley that both incredibly enough found leather, one bringing in a run. Rob Cleary, Paul Federico, Gregg Schiavoni, Evan Harse, Sean Crowley and Semkus all saw time on the mound with Jim Kinnier, Harse and Federico donning the gear behind the plate. Jared Schiavoni had two hits, was hit once and played an able shortstop for the second-place team.
Missing from this weekend’s festivities was 2005 Pierson graduate and former Whaler baseball standout Mike Labrozzi, who was participating in the NCAA Division III World Series Championship in Wisconsin with his college team, the Skyline Conference champion Farmingdale State Rams.
The Rams ran into trouble on the field in their opener Friday, surrendering a six-run eighth to Shenandoah University (VA) in a 12-2 loss that saw the Rams make three errors. Labrozzi started and played a clean game at first base, going two-for-four at the plate with two singles.
The double-elimination format sent Labrozzi and his teammates home on Saturday, two unearned runs giving Chapman College (CA) a 4-2 victory. Putting in yet another errorless game at first, Labrozzi was three-for-four at the plate, stealing a base, scoring once, doubling and singling twice and recording an assist in the field.
Sag Harbor Whalers 2009 debut
Labrozzi meets a new set of teammates this week as other collegiate players come into town to play in the second-year Hampton Collegiate Baseball League, the eastern-most division of the 43-year old Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League. Teams in Mattituck, Westhampton, Riverhead, Southampton, Old Westbury and Sag Harbor make up the Hampton League (which is also known as the Kaiser Division of the ACBL).
The Whalers are scheduled to make their debut in Southampton next Thursday at 5 p.m., taking the field against the Breakers on the Southampton High School field. After a Friday game against the Aviators in Westhampton, the Whalers host the Riverhead Tomcats in Mashashimuet Park on Sunday, June 7 for a doubleheader. The first game is at 2 p.m. and the second at 5 p.m. There is no admission fee but donations may be requested to help cover team and league expenses.
The Whaler players are from collegiate programs at Rhode Island, Rutgers, Hofstra, Harvard, Seton Hall, Stanford, Fairfield and Lafayette. Their league rivals will have players from UNLV, UNC Wilmington, UConn, Notre Dame, Princeton, Iona, Elon, C.W. Post and North Dakota State. All the teams will be using wood bats. The players will be putting up a temporary fence in the outfield when they play in the park.
The league is still looking for a few rooms to house players for the summer. If interested in helping, call Tom Gleeson at 516-361-0998.