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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 Earn Coach Milestone Win and Playoff Berth

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By Benito Vila

Pierson varsity baseball coach Sean Crowley came into this season 11 wins short of 200 for his Whaler career, knowing that 10 league wins would secure his team a berth in the county playoffs. Now, with two games still remaining in the regular season, this year’s squad has already reached both benchmarks and is looking to adding to those totals.

Heading off to play Smithtown Christian away yesterday, the Pierson boys stood at 11-5 in League VIII, in third place, and 12-7 overall. A doubleheader sweep over Southold/Greenport in Mashashimuet Park clinched the Class C tournament spot Friday and provided Coach Crowley’s milestone win. A 7-4 victory over Smithtown Christian here Tuesday secured home field advantage in the first playoff round which starts next week.

The Whalers close out league play in the park tomorrow, hosting the Knights at 4:30 p.m. The team’s playoff schedule will be announced Monday, with a home game next Thursday afternoon against Mercy or Port Jefferson being the most likely scenario.

 

Five Hours of Baseball

 

Rain last Thursday interrupted a make-up game in Southold, Pierson down 2-0 in the second inning when the sky opened up. With Southold due to miss starters over the weekend, it was agreed to play a doubleheader in the park with the Clippers being the “home” team.

Before the games, Coach Crowley cautioned his team noting the afternoon could go a few ways; “We could sweep, split or be swept, but either way we’re about to play five hours of baseball. It’s something we need everyone to commit to, win or lose. And it’s a day we’ll need every one and every thing we’ve got.”

All those pre-warm-up thoughts proved to be right on as each Whaler played a roll in earning a 6-5 extra-inning win in game one and sweeping the pair with a 6-2 victory in game two. Congratulated by his excited playoff-bound players afterwards, Coach Crowley said, “Like I said five hours ago, it could have gone one of three ways. And now we can look back at the day and enjoy what we’ve accomplished.”

In sharing his milestone with his team, Coach Crowley pointed out, “All those wins. It’s not me. I haven’t had a hit in 28 years. You guys did it. Thank you,” adding, “But I’m keeping this [game] ball.”

 

The afternoon did not start quite so upbeat, the Clippers taking advantage of a two-out error to build a four-run rally in the bottom of the third on a double, another error and two singles. Only a play at the plate, pitcher Casey Crowley covering and making the tag, got the Whalers out of the inning.

Down, the Pierson boys battled back to tie in the top of the fourth, a Joe Mascali double bringing in Ryan Miller and Kyle McGowin and a Joey Dowling single knocking in Eddie Schall and Mascali. The Whalers took the lead for the first time in the fifth, a walk to Crowley, a Gavin Kudlak sacrifice bunt, a Miller ground out and a wild pitch scoring a run.

The Clippers came back in their half of the sixth, a one-out walk and a stolen base and a two-out single tying the score, Crowley coming off the mound with the go-ahead run at first. Mascali closed out that threat with a one-pitch groundout, sending the game into a scoreless seventh.

In the top of the eighth the Southold pitcher struggled with his control, walking McGowin and Schall, and a stolen base and two wild pitches getting McGowin in with the go-ahead run. The Clippers did not go quietly in the “home” eighth, a two-out single and a stolen base moving the tying run into scoring position. But Mascali made all the right pitches to strike out the last Southold batter and come away with his fourth victory of the season.

 

The Clincher

 

Coming up first as the visitors, Pierson scored in their first at-bat in game two, Crowley drawing a walk and coming around on an infield error and a McGowin groundout. That advantage was short lived when Southold posted a pair of runs, two walks and two singles off Mascali putting the Clippers ahead.

Pierson came back to tie in the third, Mark Mahoney drawing a walk, stealing second, advancing to third on a groundout and scoring on a wild pitch. Mascali kept the score 2-2 in the bottom of the third, but was relieved by Schall in the bottom of the fourth.

Schall made the most of a three-run Whaler rally in the fifth and an insurance run in the sixth to close out the win. Coming off the bench, the junior surrendered just two hits and two walks in four innings to nail down his first varsity win.

The go-ahead runs in the fifth came courtesy of a two-out rally, started by a Crowley single to right and a Tyler Gilbride single to left. Miller followed with an RBI single to left, stole second and came into score when McGowin singled to right to drive in Gilbride and the Clipper infielders allowed the throw in to get away.

Schall helped his own cause in the sixth, his RBI single bringing in Dane Riva, who had stolen second base as a pinch runner after T.J. Arreguin earned a two-out walk. The Riva run put Pierson up 6-2 with the visiting “home” team not making much happen at the plate in their last two at-bats.

In closing out the sweep, Pierson overcame eight errors in the field, four in each game, beating a Class B Clipper team that had come in 11-2 as arguably the best hitting team in the league. Coach Crowley said afterwards, “They’re a good team but we did just a little better today. Eddie kept us close and then kept us ahead; those four innings were what we needed.”

 

Bases Loaded, Nobody Out

 

The Whalers went into Tuesday’s match-up with the Knights a little too keen on another win, an infield error and a botched rundown allowing a run to score in the top of the first. Crowley quickly evened the score, leading off the home half with a hard line drive to right center that split the outfielders and rolled so far he was able to circle the bases for a home run.

Pierson took the lead immediately at 2-1, Miller following Crowley with a single, stealing second, taking third on a wild pitch and coming into score on a RBI groundout by Schall.

The Crowley-Miller combination worked again in the third, Crowley hitting a single and Miller bunting for a base hit and alertly taking second when it was left uncovered. McGowin stepped in a delivered a two-run single to put Pierson up 4-1.

McGowin cruised on the mound into the fifth, when two Smithtown walks and a base hit cut the lead to 4-2. Crowley singled again to lead off the fifth, stole a base, and came in on a Mascali single to push the score to 5-2.

Then, the wheels nearly came off the Whalers’ win wagon in the sixth,Arreguin relieving McGowin and failing to retire a batter, four hits and a walk turning into two runs and leaving the bases full. Schall came in again on short notice and struck out the top two batters of the Smithtown lineup swinging, inducing the Knights’ third hitter to make the last out on a comebacker.

Pierson restored its three-run lead in the sixth, a Kudlak single and stolen base, a Dowling triple and a Riva sacrifice fly adding two to the Whaler total for a 7-4 advantage. Schall pitched around a hit-batsman in the seventh to close out the teams’ eleventh league win.

Looking at his scorebook afterwards, Coach Crowley said, “Eddie made me look smart today. Getting out of that jam with no one else coming in was exactly what we needed him to do.”

On the day, the younger Crowley was three-for-three boosting his team-leading average above .350, with McGowin knocking in two runs to give him a team-leading 15 RBIs.

 

Whalers Clinch Playoff Berth in Win Over Smithtown Christian

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By Benito Vila

When things come together for team, it’s a beautiful thing to watch. And so it was last night as the Pierson boys’ basketball team prevailed 52-31 over Smithtown Christian to close out a tumultuous season by earning a berth in the Suffolk County Class C tournament.

A pre-game ceremony honored Whaler seniors Casey Crowley and Ryan Miller and the pair combined with junior captain Joey Dowling to put Pierson up 6-0 in the first quarter. A 15-2 run in the second quarter pushed the lead to 25-3, Miller and Dowling making the most of their opportunities.

Dowling led the charge in the second half, scoring eight to give him 19 points for the game; he was also a dominant force underneath, pulling down 16 rebounds. Miller came away with 13 points and Crowley five.

The win in the season finale, pushed Pierson’s league mark to 7-7 and took the sting out of losses to first-place 14-0 Greenport and second place 11-2 Stony Brook earlier in the week. The 73-45 loss to the Porters came at home last Friday, all-time Long Island scoring leader Ryan Creighton posting 28 points despite the tenacious defensive efforts of Tyler Gilbride and Skyler Loesch.

Monday found the Whalers in Stony Brook, down 17-7 to the Bears after the first quarter. Although Pierson closed the deficit to two in the third, the home team held on and won 48-39, making the game against the Crusaders last night a crucial “must win” if the Whalers were to play on.

 

Tuesday in Port Jefferson

As the county’s number four seed, Pierson travels to number one-seeded Port Jefferson Tuesday to play the Royals, who went 10-4 in League VII. The number three-seeded Mercy Monarchs (9-5 in League VIII) make their way to number two Stony Brook Tuesday. The winners of those games meet in Longwood at 3 p.m. next Friday, February 20 for the Class C championship.

In facing the Royals, the Whalers will match up against a team that has sharp outside shooters and strong inside play. Port Jefferson averaged over 60 points per game in League VII, while surrendering just over 40. Pierson meanwhile averaged just over 50 points per game and gave up 40 in League VIII.

 

Solid Tests

In Friday’s loss, Pierson faced a quick and physical Greenport team that used a defensive press to pick up points on turnovers and steals. The Porters took a 17-6 lead in the first quarter, but a pair of Crowley free-throws and Dowling buckets underneath with six minutes left in the second cut that lead to seven, 19-12. That run was undone by a 12-2 spurt by the Porters that gave the visitors a 31-14 halftime lead.

The second half saw Pierson score 31 but it was not enough to keep pace with the Porters’ attack, which scored 42. Crowley led the Whalers in points with 14, Dowling adding 12 and Luke Kirrane 8.

Pierson boys’ varsity coach Christian Johns said afterwards, “Our goal defensively was to make them earn points in the half-court. We tried to shorten the game and limit their transition baskets. I thought our intensity was there right from the opening tip and really didn’t drop off. Our guys definitely came forward and got after them. Obviously, Greenport is an extremely talented and athletic team that will make you pay for even the smallest mistake, their undefeated record shows that.”

In describing the loss to Stony Brook, Coach Johns explained the challenge his team faced from the start. “They hit a couple three-point shots in the first that got them going and forced us to play from behind. After we adjusted defensively and got the ball into our shooters’ hands, the game was much more even.”

 “Early in the third, we were within two but couldn’t seem to narrow the gap. They are a very fundamentally sound team and when they have a lead they are able to work the clock to maintain it. Both this game and Greenport were solid tests heading into our final game of the regular season.” Dowling led the scoring Monday with 14, Crowley contributed 11 and Jake Weingartner six.

 

Varsity Girls Soccer vs. Smithtown Christian Oct. 17

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