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Whalers Baseball Wins in Dramatic Fashion

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Pierson's Johnny Chisholm is mobbed by teammates after scoring the winning run against Smithtown Christian on Tuesday.

Pierson’s Johnny Chisholm is mobbed by teammates after scoring the winning run against Smithtown Christian on Tuesday.

By Gavin Menu

Freshman James Sherry sparked a late-inning rally and the Pierson baseball team rebounded from a challenging start to the season with a dramatic walk-off win over visiting Smithtown Christian on Tuesday afternoon.

Trailing 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and final inning, Sherry roped a double to the outfield fence for his fourth hit of the game. The game was tied moments later when Sherry came home to score after a pick-off attempt at third base sailed into left field.

Johnny Chisholm followed with a walk and Smithtown Christian starter Jack Palma, a senior who had been dominant all afternoon, was pulled from the game. Jimmy Seviour, a hard-throwing freshman, came on in relief but walked two more batters, including Tim Markowski, whose game-winning RBI scored Chisholm and sparked a wild and unexpected celebration at home plate.

“We’ve been close in a lot of games, but things haven’t been going our way,” said head coach Jon Tortorella, referencing the team’s slow start in non-league competition, which included losses to Southampton, Westhampton and East Hampton. “I know it wasn’t conventional, but they kept fighting. [Smithtown Christian] is a very good team and a win against them is a big win.”

The bad news came later on Wednesday when word came back that Markowski had actually broken his hand earlier in the game, even telling Tortorella moments after his game-winning walk that he likely would not  have been able to swing the bat even if he had been given the chance.

Tortorella said Markowski will miss at least the next month of action as a result of the injury.

Playing at East Hampton on Friday, the Whalers lost, 3-1, to drop to 1-3 in non-league play. Then, as fate had it, Tuesday’s league opener came against Smithtown Christian, which was one of only two teams to beat Pierson all of last year.

But there was a sense following Tuesday’s victory that a new journey had begun for this particular group of Whalers, one that will continue today, April 3, with the second game of a three-game series against Smithtown Christian at 4:30 p.m. The remainder of the series, which will be the last between the teams this season, will be played on the Crusaders’ home field, and whoever wins twice will have an early leg up in the hunt for a League IX title.

“There’s no driver seat right now,” Tortorella said when asked what a win in the series would mean for his program. “We have to play for Thursday, and that’s it. There’s a long way to go.”

Prior to arriving in Sag Harbor, the Crusaders this season beat Center Moriches and Comsewogue, two good teams from much larger schools. Adding to the challenge for Pierson on Tuesday was Palma, the Crusaders’ ace pitcher, whose unorthodox delivery kept hitters off balance for much of the afternoon. Going into the final inning, Palma had recorded six strikeouts while allowing just five hits and a single run scored by Aaron Schiavoni off a sacrifice fly by Nick Kruel in the fourth inning.

But after giving up the double to Sherry and the walk to Chisholm in the bottom of the seventh, Palma left with a one-run lead and responsibility for both the tying and winning runs on base. Seviour, the freshman reliever, was unable to find the strike zone and the Crusaders left Sag Harbor with an all-too familiar result.

Kruel, who will start game three of the series, picked up the win for Pierson after tossing two scoreless innings of relief for starter Forrest Loesch.

Whalers pitcher Nick Kruel.

Whalers pitcher Nick Kruel.

“Forrest gave us some really good innings, and Nick battled and  got us through those last two innings,” Tortorella said. “He made some big pitches when he had to.”

When asked about Sherry’s performance on Tuesday, Pierson’s head coach couldn’t help but use the word “awesome” over and over again.

“He was awesome today,” Tortorella said about his freshman outfielder, who also plays shortstop when Loesch is on the mound and will replace Markowski as the team’s number three starter for the time being. “He’s gotten better everyday and he’s getting more and more confident.

“He’s still only a freshman,” Tortorella added, “but he’s really starting to feel comfortable about himself.”

Pierson's Johnny Chisholm, who scored the winning run on Tuesday, puts the ball in play against Smithtown Christian.

Pierson’s Johnny Chisholm, who scored the winning run on Tuesday, puts the ball in play against Smithtown Christian.

Whalers Baseball Challenged Early

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Pierson shortstop James Sherry waits to make a tag at second base against Southampton last week.

Pierson shortstop James Sherry waits to make a tag at second base against Southampton last week.

By Gavin Menu; photography by Gavin Menu

One week into the spring season and the Pierson baseball team has already gone on a rollercoaster of a ride.

Preparing for a trimmed down league schedule compared to years past, the Whalers have been “fortunate” to open the season with a competitive series of non-league games against larger schools, according to head coach Jon Tortorella, who believes the early challenges will be beneficial for a team expected to make another deep run in the postseason this year.

The Whalers let a six-run lead slip away against Southampton on opening day at Mashashimuet Park last Thursday. Senior ace Forrest Loesch started the game and left after four innings with a comfortable 7-1 lead. James Sherry pitched well in relief, but four defensive errors led to seven unearned runs and, ultimately, a 10-7 win for the Mariners.

Pierson bounced back with an 8-1 road win at Mercy on Friday and capped the week with a 3-2 loss to Westhampton Beach on Monday. The Hurricanes, who expect to make the playoffs in Class A this year, won in walk-off fashion with a tie-breaking run in the bottom of the seventh inning.

“Good game, good team,” Tortorella said about the Hurricanes. “They scored two in the first, and one in the bottom of the seventh. They had two outs, and their kid hit a single to right to score the winning run.”

Tim Markowski picked up the win with a complete game against Mercy and Nick Kruel pitched well against Westhampton in wintery conditions, going the distance with his trademark knuckleball.

All in all, Tortorella said his pitching staff has been as good as advertised so far this season.

“I’ve been pleased with our pitching, big time,” Tortorella said. “They’re not in mid-season form and they’re still finding their stuff. It’s nice to see them battle through and gut out some innings even though they don’t have their best stuff yet.”

Against Southampton, a lively home crowd came out for spring-like weather in Sag Harbor and Pierson’s bats were alive during an explosive first inning. Johnny Chisholm kicked things off with a triple, and came home on an RBI single by Loesch. The Whalers batted through the lineup, with Aaron Schiavoni, Loesch, Markowski, Kruel and Jack Fitzpatrick all coming around to score.

Loesch scored again in the bottom of the second, but the Whalers bats went quiet for the remainder of the afternoon, and the defense fell apart late with Sherry on the mound. Southampton scored five runs in the top of the fifth inning, and four more in the top of the seventh. Pierson finished with a total of six errors.

“After Thursday, we really cleaned our defense up,” Tortorella said. “We scored six runs in the second inning against Mercy, and our pitching was the same. I was happy with our defense and how they responded.”

The Whalers will play one last non-league game tomorrow, March 28, at East Hampton at 4 p.m. The League IX season will begin with a three-game series against Smithtown Christian, starting on the road Monday at 4:30 p.m. The series will return to Sag Harbor for game two on Thursday, April 3 at 4:30 p.m. and will wrap up back at Smithtown Christian on April 4, also at 4:30 p.m.

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.

Pierson Baseball Moves into Playoffs

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By EJ Yennie

A three run seventh inning comeback won the final game of the season for the Pierson  baseball team at Stonybrook on Friday, May 20 after an anti-climatic forfit by Stonybrook (2-16-0) on what would have been Pierson Seniors day on Thursday May 19. The 4-2 win put Pierson at 11-7 in league play earning them the number two seed in the playoffs and a double elimination game against the Port Jefferson Royals on Wednesday, May 25.

Friday’s game at Stonybrook started slowly for Pierson with senior Jake Weingartner pitching 5 2/3 innings with 6 Kk’s allowing 1 hit and 0 earned runs. Stony Brook scored on 2 errors in the bottom of the 6th. Tyler Gilbride threw a runner out from centerfield to keep the game tied. Freshman Forrest Loesch relieved Jake and went 1 1/3 innings allowing 0 hits and 0 earned runs with 2 K’s to earn the win.

Down 2-1 in the top of the seventh, Loesch began the rally with a single. With his first varisty up at bat, Nick Kruel’s bunt advanced Loesch and Kruel’s speed landed him on base.  With two men on and no outs, it looked like Pierson might have a chance of tying the score. Joe Faraguna, also on varsity for the first time, grounded to the right, loading the bases. Sean Hartnett doubled in Loesch to tie the game at 2. Weingartner hit a groundball to third base forcing Kruel out at home. With the score tied, Tyler Gilbride doubled to leftfield, scoring Faraguna and Hartnett, to put Pierson ahead 4 to 2.

The win placed the Whalers as a second seed in a double elimination tournament for the Suffolk County League VIII title and gave the Whalers a home field advantage for the first game of the tournament against Port Jefferson.

Pierson vs. Port Jefferson Royals

Despite the home field advantage, the Pierson Whalers lost the first of the double elimination playoff series on Wednesday, 4-3 to Port Jefferson.

Port Jefferson took the lead in the top of the fifth, scoring two runs off of Pierson errors. Pierson came back to tie the score in the bottom of the inning. Hunter Leyser was walked, then stole second and third. A base hit by Sean Hartnett scored Leyser. A double by Tyler Gilbride scored Hartnett, tying the score, 2-2.

Port Jefferson came back in the sixth, scoring two more runs before Pierson changed pitchers for the second time, bringing in Jake Weingarten to close the inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, down two runs, Joseph Faraguna singled down the first base line. After a pop out by Leyser, Sean Hartnett tripled, scoring Faraguna. Down by one, with Hartnett on third and one out, it appeared that Pierson had a chance to even the score. A ground out followed by a pop fly out ended the game, 4-3 Port Jefferson.

Pierson will be playing either Port Jefferson or Mercy on Friday, May 27 at 4 p.m. If Mercy wins tomorrow, they will play Port Jefferson in Sag Harbor on Friday. If Port Jefferson wins tomorrow, Pierson will play McGann Mercy on Friday in Riverhead. Details on Friday’s game will be posted on the Sag Harbor School website.


The tradition of honoring Pierson Seniors at their last home game of the season was postponed on Thursday, May 19, as the game was forfeited by Stonybrook. The Whalers (11-7-0) instead took on the Lady Whalers in an impromptu scrimmage that kept both teams limber for this week’s playoffs and championship games.







Men Closing in on Play-offs

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Heller_Whalers-Smithtown Christian Baseball '11_2348


By E. J. Yennie

After officials ruled that the bat used by Pierson Freshman Aaron Schiavoni on May 10 in the first of a three game series with Smithtown Christian was legal, the game (4-3) was officially called a win for Pierson.

Smithtown Christian evened the series up with a 10-8 win on Wednesday, May 11.

On Friday, May 13, Pierson finished the series with a 3-0 win, clinching the series and keeping their chances of a playoff berth alive.

Pierson scored their first run on Friday in the bottom of the second. A base hit by Gavin Kudlak followed by a sacrifice out by Forrest Loesch, put Kudlak in scoring position.

Brendan Hemby’s base hit scored Kudlak, giving Pierson a 1-0 lead.

Solid fielding by both teams kept either team from scoring again until the bottom of the fifth. Pierson’s Colman Vila was walked, and then advanced to second on a base hit by Hunter Leyser.

Jake Weingartner singled, scoring the fast–running Vila. Leyser attempted to take an extra base but was tagged out in a run down between second and third.

The bottom of the sixth started with an Aaron Schiavoni walk. A Kudlak base hit advanced Schiavoni to second, where he was replaced by pinch runner Kyle Sturmann.

Loesch’s sac-fly advanced both runners, putting them in scoring position. A base hit by Hemby loaded the bases with no one scoring. After a pop out by Vila, with bases loaded, Mike Heller was walked, scoring pinch runner Sturmann who walked in his first varsity run.

Forest Loesch, pitching his first complete game, allowed no hits in the seventh, giving Pierson-Bridgehampton the win, 3-0.


Whalers Start Last Series with an 11-2 Win: Need One More Win For Play Off Berth


The Whalers (9-7) won the first of a three game series against Stony Brook on Monday, May 16, with a score of 11-2.


According to Whalers’ coach John Tortorella, Tyler Gilbride, Aaron Schiavoni, Jake Weingartner and Gavin Kudlak all contributed offensively.

The freshman duo of Colman Vila at the mound and Aaron Schiavoni at the plate were instrumental in the win.

“Aaron called a great game and they really worked well together today. He kept everything in front of him,” said the coach. “Colman hit his spots and really pitched well. He was confident and very effective.”

Vila pitched six innings, had fifteen strike outs and allowed only two hits. Tyler Gilbride pitched the seventh with two strike outs.

The coach remained positive about the team’s playoff possibilities stating, “We are now one win away from the playoffs with two games to play against Stony Brook. We are currently 9 – 7.”

“All League VIII teams need to finish above .500 to qualify for playoffs. Since we play an 18-game schedule, 9 – 9 will not cut it so we need to finish 10 – 8 or better.”

“As of now, Mercy and Port Jeff have clinched playoff spots with Pierson and Greenport looking to clinch this week.”

Both Tuesday and Wednesday games were cancelled because of rain.

Pierson is scheduled to play its final regular season home game today, Thursday, May 19. Their final regular season game, against McGann Mercy, is scheduled for Friday, May 20 in Riverhead.

Post season games begin next week. Pierson and Greenport are both one game away from being in the playoffs; both have two games left to play against the two weakest teams in the league.

For updated information about the playoff schedule, which is not yet available, readers can go to the Sag Harbor School Web site and look under “Athletics.”


Whalers Topple Mercy

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By EJ Yennie

After losing to McGann Mercy last Tuesday, 11-5, and Wednesday, 6-0, the Pierson Whalers came back on Friday, April 29 to finish the series with a 14-8 win on the Monarch’s home field.


Pierson scored three runs in the first. By the fifth, the Whalers had pulled ahead 6-1. McGann Mercy closed the gap in the bottom of the fifth, scoring four runs making it 6-5.

Pierson senior Jake Weingartner pitched 6 innings, giving up 5 runs.


“Jake was outstanding today,” said Coach John Tortorella. “His stat line does not give his performance the credit it deserves. Mercy can hit and they have a lot of power. Jake battled all day and gave us a chance. To be honest, it was one of his better outings of the year and it was great to watch him step up like he did.”


Pierson’s sixth inning was highlighted by two home runs. A two run homer by Gavin Kudlak was followed by a grand slam by Sean Hartnett. Up at bat twice during the inning, Kudlak squeezed in another RBI with a sac fly. By the end of the inning, Pierson scored 8 more runs.


Down by nine runs, Mercy fought hard to come back in the seventh but was held to three runs by Pierson relief pitcher Colman Vila, for a final score of 14-8.


“It was a huge win for us,” said Tortorella. “We were pressing a little bit this past week and not playing like we are capable of. It was a good feeling for us going into our bye week.”


After last week’s three losses and one win, Pierson is 6-6-0 in league play. The Whalers’ next game is on Tuesday, May 10 against Smithtown Christian (7-5-0) at home. They will travel to Smithtown on Wednesday, May 11.


Pierson Boys Varsity Baseball vs. Mercy 4.1.2009

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