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Whalers Baseball Takes Charge Early

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By Gavin Menu

The Pierson baseball team wasted little time exerting its dominance over League IX competition this season. Over the last week, the Whalers swept a three-game series against the Smithtown Christian Crusaders, widely considered the Whalers’ top competition for the league title, and picked up a win over North Fork rival Southold on Monday.

The two meetings with Smithtown Christian last week came on April 3 and 4 in the wake of an injury to senior Tim Markowski, whose broken hand will keep him out of action for at least the next month. Freshman James Sherry, the hero in Pierson’s thrilling opening-day win over the Crusaders early last week, pitched effectively in game two to pick up his first career varsity win while leading the Whalers to an 8-6 victory.

Ryan Chisholm, a sophomore, pitched two innings in relief to close out the win for Pierson (4-0, League IX).

“James Sherry was outstanding,” head coach Jon Tortorella said. “We’re so proud of how we played today. After losing Tim, we needed to all step up and believe in each other. James and Ryan were huge on the mound, they pitched like they were both seniors and really competed.”

Senior Nick Kruel took the mound on Friday for game three and pitched seven complete innings while allowing just six hits and two runs in an 8-2 victory.

“Nick was awesome and our defense played really well,” Pierson head coach Jon Tortorella said. “He showed some guts out there.”

At the center of everything, Tortorella said, was Aaron Schiavoni, the team’s senior leader and catcher who excelled at the plate while managing the team’s pitching rotation to near perfection.

“Aaron was awesome, as always, behind the plate,” Tortorella said. “We couldn’t be happier about our performance this week.”

The Whalers began their second series of the season with a 6-1 win over Southold on Monday. Loesch escaped a bases loaded jam with no outs in the top of the sixth inning with Pierson leading 1-0. The Whalers responded with five runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a commanding lead into the seventh and final inning.

Theo Gray went 2-for3 with two RBI’s in the game, while Schiavoni went 2-for-3 with an RBI of his own.

“Our bats were quiet today,” Tortorella said, praising Loesch and the team’s defense for keeping the game close through six innings. “You’re going to face good pitching and runs will be limited, so we just need to keep grinding out at-bats.”

The Whalers will resume their series against Southold today, April 10, on the road at 4:30 p.m. before returning home for game three tomorrow, April 11, also at 4:30 p.m. A two-game series against Babylon will begin on the road on Monday at 3:30 p.m.

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.