Tag Archive | "Whalers"

Boys Struggle to Find a Win

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by Jesse Rosenthal

It’s been a rough road for the Pierson Varsity Baseball team so far this season. Following a blowout 11-1 loss in Hampton Bays to conclude their non-league series, and posting a 5-4 loss in Port Jefferson on Tuesday, the boys let the lead slip away at home last night against Port Jefferson, losing 5-3 in the second game of a three game series.

“We keep making mistakes,” said Coach Tortorella immediately following the loss to Port Jefferson. After playing solid baseball through five innings, mistakes in the field late in the game are indeed what cost the Whalers a win last night.

After Kyle McGowin gave up an early run in the top of the first, the Whalers offense responded quickly in the bottom half to tie the game. A single through the gap into left field off the bat of Tyler Gilbride, and another base hit from Jake Federico, followed by a stolen base from each base runner put runners in scoring position for Pitcher Kyle McGowin, who was able to drive in Federico on a ground ball to the shortstop.

With no runs scored in the second or third from either side, McGowin struck out the side in the top of the fourth, and the Whalers were able to go ahead in the bottom half.

A walk and a single for McGowin and Jake Weingartner put two on for slugger Brandon Kruel. A long sacrifice fly to center field from Kruel let McGowin tag up for the go-ahead run. A double up the right field line from LF Gavin Kudlak drove in Weingartner to make it 3-1 Whalers.

Unfortunately, Pierson wouldn’t be able to hold on to the lead. An uneventful fifth gave way to a sixth where poor decision making was costly. With two outs and a man on second, a grounder to third and wide throw to first left runners on the corners. After an uncontested stolen base put both runners in scoring position, Port Jefferson’s batter produced a lucrative check swing.

Catcher Eddie Schall lost the ball behind the plate allowing one run to score. Compensating, Schall through to third but the ball ended up in shallow left and the game was tied at three a piece.

After going three-up three-down in the bottom of the sixth, the top of seven saw the wheels falling off for the Whalers. A walk and two stolen bases put a runner on third for Port Jefferson. A good play on a hard ground ball to short and a solid throw home from Tyler Gilbride weren’t enough to keep Port Jeff from scoring the go-ahead run. A missed tag allowed another runner to steal second. Another ground ball to short, followed by a wild throw to first base gave Port Jefferson their fifth and final run of the game.

The Whalers were able to load the bases with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but were unable to capitalize on the situation, leaving the bases juiced to end the game.

“We played better in spurts tonight,” said Tortorella of Wednesdays loss. “We just need to be more consistent. That goes for all aspects of the game.”

The Whalers have one more coming up on Friday in Port Jefferson to round out the series, and a three game series with Southold next week. Home games are on Tuesday and Friday the 27th and 30th.

Ravens Top Whalers for the First Time

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By Benito Vila

The new kid. Everyone likes his toys but they don’t know what to make of him. No one knows how long he’ll be around and he’s sort of awkward when he tries to do what everyone else has been doing for a long time.

That can all be true of new schools, too, coming on the scene where others have been for years. So it has been for Ross, the private school seeming to emphasize experiential learning over traditional practices.

But as Ross closes out its second decade, the local community is seeing its more conventional “academic” programs mature. That is plainly evident in athletics, Ross teams starting to be ones that no one wants to play.

No longer easy to beat, those teams are making a name for themselves. That’s become true in tennis and now it’s true in basketball, the Ross boys’ varsity team protecting their home court on Tuesday and upending their Pierson rivals for the first-time ever, 54-47.

Ross now stands 3-0 in League VIII play while one-time state powerhouse Pierson is 0-3. This coming week is one that will prove whether those starts are flukes or a preview of what’s to come this winter.

Pierson has Greenport home on Friday, Stony Brook away Monday, Smithtown Christian home Wednesday and Bridgehampton home next Friday. Ross, meanwhile, has Stony Brook away today, Bridgehampton home Tuesday, Southold away Wednesday and Greenport home Friday. That sets the Whalers against the current middle of the league, with the Ravens taking on mostly the top.

There’s no knowing where the teams will end up, but what was clear Tuesday is that Ross can pass and shoot and that Pierson has hustle and depth that can keep it in games. Neither school, though, seems to have a dominant go-to force and both will need to rely on effort and teamwork to win.

Chaskey, Pettaway and More

It was Ross’ free throw shooting that put the game away Tuesday, 16 of the Ravens’ last 20 points coming from the line. Pierson, meanwhile, managed to work out of a nine-point hole with two minutes remaining to have a whistle with 30 seconds left derail a near comeback.

Even though the win was a team effort, it was sophomore Liam Chaskey who kept Ross in the game, scoring 18 of his team’s 22 first-half points, the Ravens up one at the break. Twelve of Chaskey’s points came from beyond the arc, each of those four three-pointers dropping through the net after Pierson had started to pull away.

In the second half, the Whalers shadowed and shut down Chaskey’s outside shooting, but junior forward Brendan Pettaway stepped up to distribute the ball inside and create another tempo. The two teams played even in the third quarter, the score 34-33 Ross going into the final frame.

The Wild, Wild Fourth

The physical, pounding nature of the contest took its toll in the fourth, Pierson coach Christian Johns being ejected for pointing out what he wanted to be called a foul. That double technical brought Chaskey to the line for four shots, Ross up 36-33 with seven minutes to go.

Chaskey made three out of four, the Ravens going up six, 39-33. Ross maintaining possession, Chaskey almost put the game away there, his three pointer going in and out.

Pierson stayed close, coming to within two, at 39-37, with four minutes left to play, an in-bounds play drawn up by Whaler coaches Dan White and Jonathan Tortorella freeing Tyler Gilbride for a lay-up.

The next two minutes saw Ross go on a 6-0 run, all the points coming from the foul line, Fuhito Yoshiba, a perfect four-for-four and Chaskey and Hayden Aldredge adding one apiece.

Four free throws by Tyler Gilbride and two by Sklyer Loesch lifted the Whalers back into the game, at 48-43, with 47.5 seconds left. Regaining possession with a full-court press, Pierson played for two, Luke Kirrane making that plan work, his basket cutting the Raven lead to 48-45 with 35.3 seconds left.

On the next Ross possession, a whistle against the Whalers put Pettaway on the line and he halted the Pierson charge by sinking both shots.

Taking the ball, down five, 50-45, with 30 seconds left, the Whalers were still alive. But a blocked shot and another foul, followed by two more free throws from Yoshiba, buried them, making the score 52-45 with 13 seconds left.

Chaskey and Yoshiba closed out the Ross scoring, each getting a point from the line. Gilbride did the same for Pierson, sinking a pair of free throws with five seconds left, the scoreboard reading 54-47 Ravens at the buzzer.

The gleeful, overflowing Ross crowd came on the court at the buzzer, as what was left of the Pierson side filed out silently.

All On MSG Varsity

Ross coach Kelly McKee was subdued afterwards, cleaning up gear as most high school coaches do after a big win, players minds suddenly going elsewhere.

In summarizing the game, Coach McKee said, “We were sloppy in the first half but much better in the second half. Liam put two halves together and that made it easier on everyone else to play their roles. Both Brendan and Fuhito made big shots at the end, but so did Hayden. And Lorcan [Jowers] and Charles [McIntosh] kept giving us extra chances underneath.”

Coming back to the court later, Chaskey was clearly delighted by the outcome and the fact Cablevision’s MSG Varsity network was there to record his performance. “[Pierson] came out on us man-to-man and we haven’t seen a lot of that. No one else was scoring, so I had to keep shooting, and there was a while when I couldn’t miss.”

“Every time I touched the ball in the second half, there was someone facing me. They were switching people up all the time. That made us all really have to work together and we did.”

The Pierson coaches were quiet about the outcome and the ejection of Coach Johns. By rule, Coach Johns will be unable to lead Pierson in its next game, Coach White and Coach Tortorella taking the helm Friday as the Whalers host Greenport at 6:15 p.m.

The next Ross home game is Monday, the Bridgehampton Killer Bees in for a 4:30 start.

Whalers Fall to Settlers, Face Mercy Wednesday

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By Benito Vila

A thing of beauty may be a joy forever, but a 63-39 final score in high school basketball is neither beautiful nor joyful, for either team.

On Friday, the Pierson boys’ varsity basketball team made its home debut, the new Whalers coming in looking to send the Southold Settlers back to the North Fork with their first loss of the season.

Despite the support of a small but vocal crowd, the home team mustered too little offense to challenge the visitors. The Settlers held a 19-7 lead after the first quarter and a 33-14 lead at the half.

Southold put the game away in the third, a 7-0 run and then an 8-0 run pushing back a brief Pierson charge.

The difference between the two teams came down to ball handling, the Settler defense collapsing quickly on the Whalers, who all too often lost possession off the dribble or on ill-advised passes. Those turnovers set up Southold with easy baskets and extra opportunities, putting pressure on Pierson to play the game at a catch-up tempo and do more than it could.

Whaler coach Christian Johns summed up the game by saying, “Defensively, we did some good things but still need to improve on protecting the paint. Offensively, our ball handling and pass selection will be a consistent focus in practice. I was impressed by the play of a couple of our younger guys. I thought they came in, remained composed, and made some positive decisions with the ball.”?

Our Record is 0-0

The closest the Whalers came to the Settlers was with 1:59 left in the first quarter, Skyler Loesch making the score 11-7 Southold by putting an offensive rebound back up and turning a teammate’s miss into two points. Four turnovers on the next four Pierson possessions, led to a pair of fast-break baskets and a pair of short jump shots, giving the visitors their 19-7 lead.

There was optimism on the Pierson side to open the third quarter, Tyler Gilbride getting two points from the floor and Luke Kirrane a pair from the line. That quick 4-0 Whaler run cut the Settler lead to 15, at 33-18, but Southold responded with a three-pointer, a put-back and a steal to put the game away, up 22, with 6:02 in the third.

Pierson was never able to get any closer, despite the effort made by Loesch, Gilbride, Kirrane, T.J. Arreguin, Seamus Doyle, Brook Hartnett, Sean Hartnett, Dylan Hmielenski and Nolan O’Brien. Kirrane led the Whalers with 14 points, Loesch lofting in 12. Gilbride added six, Sean Hartnett five and Doyle two.

The loss leaves the Whalers 0-2 in League VIII and 0-5 overall going into the school break. Gilbride, for one has not given up hope, saying Tuesday, “We’re working hard. Past games, there’s nothing you can do about them. Our record is 0-0 and now we have to focus on Mercy.”

That non-league match-up with Mercy comes Wednesday at Pierson. Tip-off is set for 6:15 p.m. League play resumes Tuesday, January 5, the Whalers taking the short trip to Ross. Tip-off there is also scheduled for 6:15 p.m.

Fancy Footwork

The Pierson Whaler JV jumped out to a 28-14 halftime lead on the Settler JV and came off the court with a 46-26 win. The team’s inspired hustle and consistent footwork made them tough to beat on either end.

JV coach Jonathan Tortorella said afterwards, “I was very impressed with our energy and focus today. We need to be consistent in coming to practice and games with the same intensity from start to finish. It was a solid performance overall, but I was particularly happy with our defensive effort. Offensively, we need to be a little more disciplined in what we do but we are much improved in that area as well.”

“Patrick Sloane played great today. He went to the basket aggressively and shot 14-for-17 from the line, finishing with 19 points in the game. Defensively, Joe Butts, Aidan Kirrane and Jake Bennett played very well. We rebounded the ball much better tonight as well.”

“Hopefully, we can carry this momentum into practice and be ready to play some good basketball against Mercy on December 30th.”

That game precedes the varsity match-up on Wednesday and is due to start at 4:30 p.m.

Pierson Volleyball One Win Away

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By Benito Vila

One would think that with a four-game win streak and just one win to reach the county playoffs, the Pierson girls’ varsity volleyball team would be bubbling and ready to boast about their accomplishments.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As a group they realize none of their next four opponents want to be the ones to watch them celebrate and that all four––Stony Brook, Shelter Island, Center Moriches and Ross—have given them trouble in years past.

The most telling sign that they are not overly concerned with their own success is the effort they put into Dig Pink, a national breast cancer awareness campaign they and their coach Stacey Springer incorporated into their match against Greenport on Monday in the Pierson gym.

After contributing baked goods to a sale held in the Pierson gym lobby, the team came out of their locker room wearing pink headbands and ribbons, intent on staying on a roll.

The first game proved to be no contest, the Lady Whalers running up an 11-0 lead behind the serving of Samara Finkenauer. A 25-7 Pierson win in game one, and 25-13 and 25-16 wins in games two and three closed out the match in a scant one hour and ten minutes. Tanasha Clark closed the match with a spike well above the net in a forceful display of timing and touch.

Afterwards, Coach Springer was delighted by her team’s play, saying, “That first game was the best we’ve played all year. We were very clean and smooth. We weren’t quite as tight in the other two, but still we never let them get into those games.”

In tallying her team’s performances, Coach Springer found setter Xylia Serafy totaled 29 assists while Finkenauer recorded 17 service points. Katelyn Grodsky also contributed high numbers, adding 13 service points, four kills, three aces and one block.

Getting to Within One

The Lady Whalers’ win streak started the week before last with a four-game victory over Ross. Since then the girls have played just nine games in netting three more wins, taking three from Port Jefferson last Wednesday, three more from Mercy Friday and three from Greenport Monday.

That stretch has improved Pierson’s League VIII mark to 6-4. This week the top of the league awaits, matches scheduled at 7-2 Stony Brook Friday and 9-0 Shelter Island Monday. A Halloween morning match at home against Center Moriches and a November 3 date at Ross will provide the Lady Whalers two more chances to clinch their berth.

Already looking ahead on Monday to taking on Stony Brook and Shelter Island, Coach Springer said, “We’ll be practicing on digging the ball out of the ground this week; that and recovering after the block. We have to do those things well to win.”

Coach Springer contributes her team’s turnaround of late to on-floor chemistry, noting, “We were working against each other, but we’ve made some adjustments and there’s been better communication on the court. We’ve been a lot more relaxed and confident, staying on our toes and getting after the ball. It’s made all the difference.”

Pierson Field Hockey Seniors Look to Last Game

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By Benito Vila

It’s hard to get anyone to believe but high school happens all too quickly. Kids come in scrawny and questioning, on bicycles and skateboards, and leave filled out, driving and looking to change the world.

While those changes don’t come easily, luckily there are rituals that help everyone adjust and mark the transitions. The Pierson varsity field hockey team will celebrate one of those today, the Lady Whalers honoring their six seniors before a 4:30 p.m. match with East Hampton in Mashashimuet Park.

The match also has playoff implications, third-ranked, 7-4, Pierson looking to maintain its position and the sixth ranked, 5-6, Lady Bonackers set on improving theirs. While the playoffs look to be a lock for the Lady Whalers, losses to East Hampton today or Rocky Point Tuesday could create uncertainty.

This past week, the Pierson girls saw top-ranked Shoreham-Wading River hold off an upset bid Friday, the Lady Wildcats protecting their home field in a 3-0 final. On Monday, the Lady Whalers went to Riverhead and came home with a 6-0 win.

In describing Friday’s game, Lady Whaler coach Shannon Judge said, “The [Shoreham] score was not indicative of our level of play. We had six corners to their ten, with seven shots on goal to their nine. Two of their goals were scored off of defensive mis-positioning and wouldn’t have happened if we were in the right spot. So that’s something we can take away from that game and continue to work on.”

The team took a 2-0 lead in the first half in Riverhead Monday, but it was a two-minute sequence early on in the second half that proved to be the difference. In that charge, Pierson scored three goals, Coach Judge seeing what she called, “beautifully executed goals. Ball movement was swift and the entire field was used. Proving that we are a skilled passing team, the goals were scored by three different people.”

Banging the ball into the back of the box Monday were Sarah Barrett, Abby Gawronski, Sariah Cafiero, Sophie Gianis and Nicole Dorego, with Dorego scoring twice. Also adding assists to their point totals were Cafiero and Dorego.

Today and Beyond

In preparing for this week’s matches, Coach Judge said, “We did well in East Hampton winning 4-1 and we were on their grass field. I expect the girls to play with tight passing and swift movement off the ball today, especially with the speed advantage we’ll have on our field.”

“We beat Rocky Point 1-0 last time, and they play a hit and run game, completely opposite of our style. We will need a few days of practice to adjust to their style, and use ours to our advantage. We’re going to spend some time playing on the softball field, where there’s higher grass, and work on a little more hitting and on being aggressive to the cage.”

The six seniors sure to get flowers today are Aly Bori, Christy Deery, Nicole Dorego, Abby Gawronski, Ana Winchell and Vanessa Rojano. The rest of the team will enjoy the seniors’ moment and may be anxious for theirs, but Coach Judge has the whole squad intent on returning to the county championship game, November 7 at Patchogue-Medford.

Whalers Split Hometown Finale; Post-season Eludes Local Team

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By Benito Vila

A season that began with so much promise turned into a bit of a soaker for this summer’s Sag Harbor Whalers. After earning the Kaiser Division championship and finishing as the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League runner-up last summer in their inaugural season, a quick start this June led many to believe more acclaim was coming the Whalers’ way.

But baseball’s a funny game and things don’t often go the way they seem destined. A seven-game losing streak earlier this month took the Whalers out of the top half of the division and out of post-season play. Although a 5-1 final week put the boys back on course, they went into last night’s match-up with the North Fork Ospreys in Mattituck at 17-20, four games out of a playoff spot.

Today the Whalers close out their schedule with a day/night doubleheader on the road, taking the field against the Tomcats (21-16) in Riverhead at noon and then against the Aviators (24-15) in Westhampton at 5 p.m. Given the wet weather the past two months, it is a testament to the league’s planning and perseverance that the teams even came close to completing their 42-game schedules.

In the second game of last Sunday’s fog-enveloped doubleheader in Mashashimuet Park, Whaler public address announcer Kevin Major acknowledged Kaiser Division organizer Rusty Leaver and his wife Diane and thanked Whaler general manager Sandi Kruel. A wet crowd of fifty, a little smaller turnout than usual, applauded, grateful for the chance to see such a high level of baseball close-up.

Among the current ACBL players in the major leagues are Jamie Moyer with the Philadephia Phillies, John Lannan with the Washington Nationals and Drew Sutton with the Cincinnati Reds. Whaler players Brandon Boykin (Rutgers), Ed Squeri (Dowling), Kyle Crean (Albany), Kyle Zarotney (Central Connecticut) and Stanley Fich (Stanford) drew the most interest from scouts this summer, with other scouts set to watch their progress as they return to school.


The Last Home Games


After the first game last Sunday, an 8-6 loss to the last place Long Island Mustangs, there was little to be said in the dugout. Holding a 5-4 advantage with two outs in the visitor sixth, the Whalers saw a pair of singles give the Mustangs an 8-5 lead. Though the boys brought home a run in the home half of the sixth, it was not enough to rein in a win.

The second game saw no lingering effects from the loss, two errors and two hits putting the Whalers up 2-0 in the first. Though the Mustangs tied the score with a run in the second and another in the third, a five-run fourth put the Whalers up 7-2.

The big hits in the go-ahead rally were a double by Zarotney and a bases-clearing triple by Lou Volpe. Five-innings of one-hit pitching by Nick Lettas (High Point) gave the Whalers the time they needed to get the bats going and two innings of one-run relief by Steve King (Farmingdale State) closed out the win.

After the game, Whaler coach Scott June praised the pitching and timely hitting he saw in game two. In looking back over his last two weeks with the team (professional commitments called away the Whalers’ original coaches), Coach June said, “These boys know how to play. They play hard and there’s not a lot of instruction involved. I find myself pointing out the little things they can do [to get an advantage] more than telling them how to do it.”

A partner and instructor at All-Pro Baseball Academy in Bellport, Coach June worked with “five or six” of the Whalers while they were in high school. He said, “It’s been satisfying for me to see them playing at this level. I had Crean and [Sag Harbor’s Mike] Labrozzi when they were 14 and they’ve kept working at the game and they’ve gotten a whole lot better.”

When asked about the league, Coach June suggested that it, too, should continue to improve. “I’ve seen every team. The talent on the field is there and the fans have come out to watch in every town. Knowing what Rusty and all the people behind the teams are putting into this, it will only get better in the future.”

Coach June and the All-Pro coaches will be back in the park for their annual youth summer camp the week of August 10. They are also in Montauk the week of August 17.

Whalers Need to Win Out for Berth

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By Benito Vila

With eight games to go on their schedule, the post-season is a dim dream for this summer’s Sag Harbor Whalers. The defending Kaiser Division champions were 12-19 going into last night’s game against the Westhampton Aviators in local Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League action. The Aviators, at 20-11, are the division’s current co-leaders, sharing the top spot with the 21-12 Riverhead Tomcats.

The Whalers were among the league leaders July 10 before a seven-game stretch saw the team lose their manager, pitching coach, two top catchers, three starting pitchers, a reliever and the starting shortstop. Not faring well on the field and playing a bit like this summer’s New York Mets, the team dropped each of those seven contests, going from a playoff contender to also-ran in a week.

Splitting a pair of doubleheaders last weekend put the Whalers back in the win column, but like the Mets, the injuries have been too much to overcome. Gone are the guys that led the team to a strong start, putting pressure on the remaining players to do more, a disastrous scenario at any level.

In the midst of dealing with the injuries, the team learned pitching coach Jonathan Anderson had been recruited by the Dartmouth College baseball program and that manager Jason Lefkowitz was needed to fulfill a coaching commitment at Brown University.

Stepping in to right the Whaler ship have been Scott June and Jim Buckley, coaches from All-Pro Sports Academy in Bellport, the east end’s closest baseball training facility. Both June and Buckley played college ball, with Buckley moving on through the Red Sox’ minor league program as a catcher between 2002 and 2006, finishing his career at AAA Pawtucket.

Buckley knows the ACBL summer league program first-hand, having played in the 1999 season while he was attending Siena College. After the games in Mashashimuet Park last Sunday, Buckley said, “Summer-ball is supposed to be fun for these guys and the last week’s been hard on them. What Scott and I hope to do in these last few games is throw some knowledge at them; we’re not here to make major adjustments. We want them to pick up on the little things they can do to keep on improving and to understand how to make use of some of the things they see on the field from game to game.”

Buckley saw the Whalers’ win last Sunday’s first game, 3-1, on what he described as “key two-out hits” and drop the nightcap, 7-3, in “killing innings by leaving guys at third with less than two outs.”

The Whalers are scheduled to be back in the park tomorrow, hosting Riverhead in a 5 p.m. start. On Sunday, the team has its last home doubleheader of the season, the Long Island Mustangs (5-25) coming in for games at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.

The Whaler’s only hope for the post-season is to win those three home games and then sweep the Tuesday 2 p.m.-5 p.m. doubleheader against the Mustangs at Stony Brook Southampton. The boys would also have to continue to win out against the North Fork Ospreys in Mattituck Wednesday and against the Aviators in Westhampton next Thursday.


Scout Day


The Whaler’s record of late has not deterred fans from turning out to see the team, a loyal group of about forty regulars and another curious twenty-five or so coming each Sunday for the doubleheaders. And though the Kaiser Division title games and the ACBL’s championship finals against the New Jersey-based Wolff Division winner are not likely to be played in the park, it does appear the collegiate program is set to return next summer.

Local Kaiser Division organizer Rusty Leaver said last Sunday, “We’re in this for the long haul. We took an unusual business step in adding five teams at once this season but it’s working. The fan-base has come along in each of our towns and we’re attracting baseball talent, on and off the field, that’s making it even more interesting for everyone involved.”

Some of that talent includes major league scouts that are tracking Kaiser players. This past Monday scouts from the Red Sox, Devil Rays, Mets, Tigers and Phillies’ organizations held a showcase “Scout Day” at the Stony Brook Southampton field.

Players were asked to throw, run and hit, learning in the doing some of the rules of thumb the major league clubs are currently using in looking for talent. Those include: running the 60-yard dash in 7.1 seconds or under, with 6.8 seconds being “something we like”; throwing head-high lasers from right field to home and third that one-hop sharply on-target on at least seven out of ten tries; catchers going “pop-to-pop”, from home to second, in two seconds or less.

The scouts were also overheard speaking of ideal body types—looking for slim builds over six-foot two for first base and thinking of infielders under five-foot eleven as second baseman only. Generalities aside, a dozen or more Kaiser Division players, including a few Whalers, are already being “followed”, with dedication, effort and “nothing stupid on Facebook” also being factors in attracting further attention.

Collegiate Whalers at 4-4

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By Benito Vila


The Sag Harbor Whalers of the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League played five games this week, going 2-3 and giving the squad a 4-4 start on their 40-game schedule.

The three losses came in contests with the high-flying league-leaders, the Westhampton Aviators (4-2) and the North Fork Ospreys (6-3). The Whalers split their doubleheader with the Aviators in Mashashimuet Park last Sunday, seeing game one get away 2-0 on a bases loaded double in extra innings and playing “small ball” to prevail 2-1 in game two, a bunt and a fielder’s choice scoring the go-ahead run.

The team is back in the park again this Sunday for a doubleheader against the Long Island Mustangs, who are off to a 1-4 start. Game one Sunday is set for 2 p.m. and game two 5 p.m.; both games scheduled to go seven innings.

Looking at how his team has performed of late, Whaler skipper Jason Lefkowitz sees “a strong offense that has run into some good pitching. We’re not putting together good at-bats consistently right now. We’re getting a good one here and then one there. Consistency will come with playing and with playing together. The guys are putting in the work and, for a lot of them, it’s just a matter of getting their timing down. I know we’re going to start getting better results. And that’s great, because so far our pitching has been strong and we’ve been in all our games.”

Going into last night’s game against the Mustangs at New York Tech, former Pierson Whaler Mike Labrozzi (Farmingdale State) led the team in batting at .500 (12 for 24), with Ed Squeri (Dowling), at .308, being the only other Whaler over .300. Bonacker-alum Gardner Leaver (Rhode Island) leads the club in innings pitched (11.1) and has yet to surrender a run.

Steve King (Farmingdale) leads the pitchers with two wins and Brian Russell (Davidson) tops the staff with eight strikeouts in eight innings. Brandon Boykin (Rutgers) is third in hitting at .292. The team has turned ten double plays on defense in the eight games while the offense has only hit into four.

This week the Whalers are at Riverhead Tuesday, at Westhampton Friday and then back in the park next Sunday for two against Southampton. The weekday away games start at 5 p.m.

Whalers Take First Two, Return This Sunday

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By Benito Vila

The Boys of Summer is legendary in the annals of sport, writer Roger Kahn capturing the cool and fire of his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers. Last Sunday Sag Harbor was introduced to its boys of summer, a group of college players coming together as “the Whalers” in Mashashimuet Park to open a 40-game season in Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League action.
The setting was familiar for one Whaler, former Pierson standout and current Farmingdale State scholar-athlete Mike Labrozzi back on his “home” field. Labrozzi and his new teammates didn’t disappoint the 80 or so that turned out, taking both ends of a doubleheader, 2-1 and 10-2, from the highly regarded Riverhead Tomcats.
Labrozzi lit up the faces of many friends, starting at first base and hitting sixth in the first game. In his first at-bat, in the bottom of the second, Labrozzi stepped in with a runner on and lifted the first over-the-fence homer seen in Mashashimuet since the wood bat league started play here last year.
The 360-foot shot gave Whaler starter, East Hampton alumnus and current University of Rhode Island pitcher, Gardner Leaver a 2-0 lead. And those runs were all Leaver needed, the righty keeping the Tomcats quiet in allowing just one hit, walking one and striking out three in five innings of work.
Brian Russell, a righty from Davidson, relieved Leaver and held the lead for the next three and two-thirds, scattering four hits. But it was Jake Donze, a lefty from Murray State University (KY), who closed out the game, getting the last out on a force at second with the bases loaded, a run in and the Tomcats scratching to get the lead.

The Runs Pile Up
The Tomcats were unable to break through in the first inning of the second game, New York Tech lefty Steve Faulkner retiring the side easily. The Whalers, meanwhile, snapped their scoreless string, Rutgers sophomore Brandon Boykin singling in a run in the bottom of the first.
Labrozzi stepped in later in the frame with two away, runners at first and third and the home crowd eager for more. A delayed double steal and a low throw home, netted the Whalers another run before Labrozzi added to the Tomcats’ misery by roping a double to right center to make the score 3-0.
Faulkner yielded a run in the second, the Tomcats making the most of a pair of singles and a wild pitch. A Labrozzi infield single in the hole at short brought home another Whaler in the fourth, keeping the margin at three and giving the hometown player four RBIs on the day.
In all, Labrozzi went five-for-seven in his team’s debut, another single in the sixth contributing to a five-run rally that put the Whalers up 9-1. A Sag Harbor run in the eighth and a Riverhead run in the ninth closed the scoring at 10-2 Whalers, Anna Maria College (MA) lefty James McNamara and Farmingdale State righty Steve King keeping the Tomcats from sneaking back into the game.

What’s to Come
Whaler skipper Jason Lefkowitz, an assistant baseball coach at Brown University, was satisfied with his team’s play, saying “I thought our team played well-played games considering we have only been on a field as a team twice leading up to the games. It was a great team effort with many of the guys giving up their at bats to move runners over and get runners in. Mike Labrozzi came up clutch for us in both games, having a great at bat in the first game and hitting it out with two strikes.”
Seeing what needs work, Coach Lefkowitz pointed out, “I feel we need to work on our defense a little more as we made more errors than I would have liked, causing our pitchers to make more pitches. Also, we will be working on our hitting a little bit, but I don’t have any concerns for that part. If we were able to put up 10 runs on limited hits, we should be able to do well once we start playing everyday.”
Citing individual contributions, Coach Lefkowitz added, “I thought all our pitchers did a great job throwing strikes, letting our defense make the plays. Gardner Leaver did a great job throwing more innings than we expected him to throw with the limited pitch count we had our pitchers on. Brian Russell also threw the ball very well and Jake Donze got us a big out to get the save.”
“In game two, I was very happy with how James McNamara pitched; he was a strike-throwing machine, getting us deep in the game. Before the doubleheader, we were told we were playing two nine-inning games where I understood from the ACBL we were going to play two seven-inning games, so we were a little thin on pitching as a few of our pitchers had just got to Sag Harbor Saturday.”
The nine-inning format will be used in games from hereon in, the Whalers at North Fork (Mattituck) today at 5 p.m. and at Southampton (on the high school field) Thursday at 5 p.m. On Saturday, the Whalers will play the Breakers on the new baseball field at Stony Brook University’s Southampton campus at 5 p.m.
The boys are back in the park again this Sunday against Westhampton, games at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., with Sunday doubleheaders continuing each weekend this month and next.

Whaler Get-Away
The Sag Harbor Whaler Host Committee, which has housed the team’s players and made arrangements for local work while the boys are not playing ball, has scheduled a team fundraiser for June 19. The committee has negotiated the use of one of the South Ferry’s fleet for a sunset getaway cruise in and outside the harbor.
The ferry will launch from Long Wharf next Saturday, Whaler players meeting those that turn out at 5:45 p.m. Shortly after 6 p.m. beverages and appetizers will be made available. Tickets for the cruise can be purchased for $40 at B. Smith or from Rich Kudlak at Prudential Real Estate. The ferry is due to come in just before 8 p.

Collegiate Whalers Ready for Sunday Debut

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By Benito Vila

The Sag Harbor Whalers, last year’s runner-up in the Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League, will make their 2009 home debut in Mashashimuet Park this Sunday at 2 p.m. hosting the Riverhead Tomcats. A second game follows at 5 p.m.

The Whalers came together for practice Tuesday in Southampton, many players meeting each other for the first time after traveling in from colleges all over the country. The team opens play today at Hite Field in Westampton, taking on the Aviators at 5 p.m.

The Whalers are scheduled to play 42 games between now and the end of July, with doubleheaders in the park each of the next eight Sundays. Those interested in tracking their schedule can go to acbl-online.com.


Meet the Team

The 2009 Whalers will be managed by Jason Lefkowitz, an assistant baseball coach at Brown University and a graduate of Loyola Marymount University. A starting infielder and a psychology major as an undergrad, Lefkowitz earned student-athlete academic honors in each year he was at LMU. He is currently working towards his master’s degree and just completed his third season with the Brown program.

Duke assistant coach Jonathan Anderson joins Lefkowitz in the Whaler dugout. Anderson is a former Blue Devil outfielder and pitcher, who has been in charge of the Duke Baseball Academy for two years and oversees the academic development of the program’s student-athletes.

Notable Whaler players include right-handed pitcher Ian Dickson of Lafayette College (PA), an All-Long Island pitcher from Northport who consistently hits 88-92 on radar gun. Also on the roster is shortstop Tony Bernazard of Jacksonville University (FL), a son of the former major leaguer who is currently vice president of player development for the New York Mets. Former Pierson Whaler and current Farmingdale State scholar-athlete Mike Labrozzi will be vying for playing time on his “home” field.

The other Whaler players are from collegiate programs at Rhode Island, Rutgers, Hofstra, Harvard, Seton Hall, Stanford, Fairfield, Elon and Davidson. Their league rivals in Mattituck, Westhampton, Riverhead, Southampton and Old Westbury will have players from UNLV, UNC Wilmington, UConn, Notre Dame, Princeton, Iona, C.W. Post and North Dakota State among others.

There is no admission fee to Whaler games but donations may be requested to help cover team and league expenses.


ABCL Grads

The ACBL is opening its forty-third season this summer, collegiate players making up the rosters of 12 teams. Six of those teams are based in and around northern New Jersey and western Pennsylvania and make up the Wolff Division and the other six teams are on Long Island and make up the Kaiser Division.

The east end component of the league was brought to life last year by Montauk resident Rusty Leaver and a host of local volunteers, who saw their Whalers earn the 2008 Kaiser Division crown. Leaver hopes to expand the Long Island contingent so that it evolves locally along the lines of the Cape Cod Summer League, which has brought together top amateur baseball talent and professional scouts since 1885.

The ACBL has showcased many major leaguer in its time, recent 250-game winner Jaime Moyer (Philadelphia Phillies) being one name many recognize of late. Craig Biggio, John Flaherty, John Valentin, Pat Kelly, Keith Osik, Matt Morris, Pete Harnisch, Walt Weiss, Terry Mulholland, Frank Viola and Kevin Cash are names that Yankee, Met and Red Sox fans alike are sure to remember.