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Season’s Sizzling Start

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Whalers shut out Port Jefferson Royals 5-0

Thanks to a stellar performance by left-handed pitcher Colman Vilá on the mound, the Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers varsity baseball team shut out the visiting Port Jefferson Royals in the season opener, 5-0. The League VIII game was held at Mashashimuet Park on Tuesday, March 28.

The Royals were absolutely stymied by Vilá, a junior with a consistent fastball. The lefty pitched a complete seven inning game for the Whalers, finishing with seven strikeouts, two walks and allowing no runs in the win.

Whalers Head Coach Jonathan Tortorella said that he was very impressed with Vilá in his first outing of the season.

“If [Vilá] can do that on the first game, that’s our best against their best, that is huge,” he said, “and he is going to get better too. This is his year.”

Tortorella put Vilá at the top of a three-man starting rotation that also includes sophomores Forrest Loesch and Aaron Schiavoni.

Behind these starters, the Whalers have two relievers — senior Michael Heller and junior Jake Bennett. However neither of them were needed in Tuesday’s shutout.

The Whalers first scored in the bottom of the first inning thanks to some spotty pitching by the Royals.

Senior outfielder Paul Dorego was walked with the bases loaded, allowing for Pierson to get on the board first. Later in the same inning sophomore outfielder Tim Markowski was walked, again with the bases loaded to send another runner home.

Pierson stretched their lead in the fifth inning when senior Sean Hartnett hit a line drive single past the first baseman which allowed short stop Loesch to run into home. Markowski hit his own RBI single on a shallow pop fly to left field, this time sending home catcher Schiavoni.

Senior designated hitter Hunter Leyser scored the fifth and final run of the game on the power of his legs. After reaching first base on a hit past the infield, Leyser proceeded to steal both second and then third base, putting him in scoring position. Loesch batted Leyser home on a RBI single line drive right over second base.

“Our lineup is going to get better. I like where we are at. There are some good parts working together, we have some speed, we have some power, we have some contact,” said Tortorella. “Things are going to get better.”

The Royals had no answer at the plate, failing to convert singles into runs, and leaving many of their base runners stranded. When Vilá failed to put away a batter, great defense was there to pick up the slack.

The infield comprised of Emet Evjen at first base, Kyle Sturmann at second base, Loesch at short stop, and Jake Bennett at third looked especially potent in the game.

Tortorella said that while the team looks sharp in their first game of the season they still have a lot to improve on if they want to get into the post season.

“We have tighten up our defense a little bit, but it’s still early and I think that will come,” said Tortorella, “and we really should have to be driving in runs when we have guys on base, we can’t be leaving bases loaded, guys on second and third, we have to end things right there with the big hit.”

Loesch led the team at the plate, going 3-4 with an RBI and a steal. Schiavoni went 1-2 but reached first base two other times after being hit by the pitch. Leyser finished 1-3 with a walk and a steal.

This year in particular, the League VIII post season looks to be wide open for a number of teams.

“I think it is huge to win that first one, especially against Port Jeff, they are a good team,” said Tortorella, “especially with this league being so tight, all of these games mean so much.”

The Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers also had another home game on Wednesday, March 28, this one at home against Southold. However this paper went to bed before the final results of that game were known.

The Whalers next travel to Smithtown Christian for a road game on Friday, March 30 at 4 p.m. The team will return home to host Greenport/Shelter Island on Tuesday, April 3 at 4:30 p.m.