Tag Archive | "Whalers"

Whalers’ Tough Start

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By Jacob Sisson

It has been a tough season thus far for the Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers boys’ basketball team, having endured four losses in their first four games of the 2010-2011 season. The Whalers ended 2010 0-1 in Suffolk County league eight play and 0-4 overall, having dropped their only league matchup to Southold, as well as two non-league matchups to East Hampton and one to Hampton Bays.

Despite the tough start to the season, Pierson/Bridgehampton coach Dan White is still optimistic about his team’s chances at a playoff berth. Making the playoffs this year will be quite the accomplishment for the first-year coach, after the Whalers finished the 2009-2010 season with a 2-16 record.
“When you go 2-16 the previous year and then all of a sudden you’re in a position to win games, it’s a totally different mentality. We’re trying to get through that and when we do, we can do some damage.”

“Our goals are still intact. Our goal has been to make the playoffs and that’s still the goal. We’re better right now than where we started. We have proved we can play with good teams. The team still has their goal and they still believe in it.”

Pierson/Bridgehampton’s season started with a pair of tough games against East Hampton (3-5, 0-2), and it was clear that while the wins didn’t come, the Whalers were finding their identity as a team. The Whalers kept the scoreline manageable at 44-33 in the teams’ first meeting, then pushed into overtime in their second, dropping the second contest 53-51. The second East Hampton game on December 12 provided coach White with his first real insight into what the Whalers need to do to run with the league’s elite.

“In that East Hampton game, the guys got out to a lead and started to think: ‘oh my gosh, we can win this!’ But then, all of a sudden, they get nervous. Instead of trying to keep all the doors open, they get nervous. They’ve got to understand that when you’re in a position to win, you have to really put the nail in the coffin, but that’s a learning experience.”

White does know that there are things the Whalers are doing well and things the Whalers can work on to improve their playoff chances.

“When we make a commitment to get the ball inside, and when we make a commitment to playing good half court defense, that’s what we hang our hat on. Whenever we get away from that we start to struggle a bit. We’ve also got to become better at taking care of the ball and doing a better job of looking out for each other on the weak side. We need to do a better job, too, of playing for each other on offense. We’ve started to do it, but we have to do it all the time.” White points to four individuals who have really carried the team when it comes to production and leadership.

“Seamus Doyle, Skyler Loesch, Jake Weingartner and Patrick Sloane have stepped up as far as scoring, being leaders and playing the majority of our minutes. They’ve also been really good on defense. We’ve really been relying on them.”

“Jake Weingartner has come back and been really important for me this year. He didn’t play last year, but played varsity as a Sophomore, so I wasn’t sure how he was going to fit in. He’s a smart kid and he knows the game of basketball and he’s been great.”

Despite two stinging losses to close out 2010, confidence in the Whalers’ camp is still high. Though it won’t show up on the score sheet, the Whalers took home a scrimmage victory against Sayville, which has given the team vital momentum ahead of their first games of the new year.

“We went to Sayville and got a win in the scrimmage. On top of that, we had a really good week of practice. We may face our toughest games coming right out of the break, but I think we’re ready.”

“We’ve got Greenport, Stony Brook and Port Jefferson coming up. Those are the three best teams in the league, so that’s going to be a difficult run for us. We’ll be competitive if we do the things we need to do. We’re going to have to do some damage against some of the lesser teams in the league to put ourselves in position to make the playoffs.”

The Whalers get their season back underway on Friday with a league eight matchup against Greenport (5-0, 2-0). Greenport’s two league eight victories came against Bridgehampton (0-5, 0-1) – a 66-34 blowout on December 15 – and against Southold (3-3, 1-1) – a 61-54 victory on Tuesday.

Pierson/Bridgehampton will need to work hard to stop Greenport’s Dantre Langhorne, who scored 27 points each in his last two games and hasn’t scored fewer than 20 points once this season.

Whalers Fall in Openers

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By Jacob Sisson

The Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers boy’s basketball team continues to search for its first win of the season after dropping a pair of games, including its first League VIII loss of the year, in Southold on Friday night and in Hampton Bays on Tuesday.

The Whalers did their best to contain Southold, coming within nine points of victory but eventually falling 43-34 in their first league defeat of 2010. Later in the week, the Whalers could do little to stop League VII’s Hampton Bays as the Baymen delivered a 73-32 defeat.

Against Southold, Pierson/Bridgehampton looked to be well matched against a team that had enjoyed mixed results in their non-league season. A win against League Five’s Rocky Point gave Southold a solid boost in the lead up to the game, and showed that they were going to be one of the teams the Whalers would have to beat if they hoped to score a League VIII championship.

The first quarter started promising enough for the Whalers, who managed to finish the first eight minutes tied 9-9 with the Settlers. They also managed to hold things close at the close of the first half, down just five points at the intermission with the score at 21-16.

Southold began to edge away in the third quarter, outscoring the Whalers 11-5, and despite a rediscovered fight, managed to close out the game 43-34 despite being outscored by the Whalers 13-11 in the game’s final eight minutes.

Senior Skyler Loesch led the Whalers on the score sheet for the first time this season, contributing 10 of the team’s 34 points. Fellow senior Tyler Gilbride was next on the list, adding seven points, while seniors Seamus Doyle and Jake Weingartner each had six points.

While the Whalers were able to keep things manageable against Southold, they could do little to contain the scoring trio of Hampton Bays’ Cameron Booth, Luke Mercurio and Justin Carbone, who combined for 51 of Hampton Bays’ 73 points.

After just one quarter, the Whalers were already in a 15-7 hole, and things weren’t getting much better. After being outscored 21-8 in the second quarter, the Whalers were in for a Hampton Bays outburst that saw 29 points go up in the Baymen’s favor. After three quarters the score was 65-26, and Hampton Bays could cruise to a 73-32 victory.

Despite it coming in a losing effort, Pierson/Bridgehampton’s senior leadership did their job in leading the team, with Tyler Gilbride knocking down nine points followed closely by Skyler Loesch who added eight and Seamus Doyle who chipped in another six points.

The Whalers will have some time to work on the lessons they learned against Southold and Hampton Bays as they don’t have another official game until January 7. Once the holiday break is over, Pierson/Bridgehampton will return to action against Greenport, who currently sit undefeated atop League VIII thanks to league wins against Bridgehampton and a four-win non-league season. From there, the schedule does not let up as the Whalers are back in action four days later against Stony Brook, who have yet to play their first League VIII match, but recorded a one-point victory in their first game of the season against League VII’s Babylon.

Whalers on an Uptick

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By Andrew Rudansky

This week the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League passed the midway point in their season, with the Sag Harbor Whalers at a disappointing half-a-game out of last place. But their poor record, currently 8-13, this far into the season does not reflect their level of play in the past few games. Since the start of the month the whalers have gone 3 and 2, both losses coming from close games that could have gone either way.

On Friday, July 2, the Whalers surged ahead of the Southampton Breakers with two runs scored in the first inning. They held on for a 5-2 win thanks to starting pitcher Ryan Mikalsen, and team slugger Kevin Grove who hit his third home run of the season.

The following day the Whalers played host to the Riverhead Tomcats for a grueling double-header. Whaler pitcher Andrew English was rattled by Riverhead’s power hitting and the game quickly turned into a 6-1 flop. However, in the bottom of the fifth the Whalers thundered back with four runs of their own. This proved to be too little too late; when in the last inning, with no outs and the tying run on second base the Tomcats showcased their game closing ability, finishing the game with a 6-5 Riverhead victory.

The second game of the doubleheader was a pitching duel between Tomcat Joey Novak and Whaler Ryan Bresnahan who only allowed six hits between the two of them. The Whalers won the extra-innings game 1-0, splitting the double-header when Kevin Grove hit an RBI Double.

Sunday, July 4, the Whalers fought another pitching battle, this time against the last-place Southampton Breakers. The game, which was tied at zero well into extra innings, was decided by a bottom of the inning surge by the Breakers, who won, 5-1.

On Tuesday, July 6, the Whalers beat the top-seeded North Fork Ospreys in a hard fought 6-4 victory.

“Earlier in the season we may have laid down and taken a loss,” said Whalers Assistant Coach Dave Pahucki, “but it’s good to see [the team] take their swings, bear down on the mound and play defense.” The Whalers are eight-and-a-half games behind first place, but there is still plenty of time left in the season and they are still very much in the chase.

Whalers Off to 2-1 Start

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By Jesse Rosenthal

The Sag Harbor Whalers, our own summer league collegiate baseball team, kicked off the 2010 season last week with a win (4-2) against the Southampton Breakers on Friday and a loss (3-1) against the North Fork Ospreys on Saturday. This Tuesday the Whalers improved their record to 2-1 with an 11-5 victory in Westhampton against the Aviators.

With another thirty-six games to be played this season, sixteen of which are home games in Sag Harbor’s own Mashashimuet park, there will be plenty of quality baseball to be seen this summer through the end of July.

After multiple injuries led to a disappointing finish in 2009, the Whalers are looking for a fresh start and some forward progress in new Head Coach Jim Buckley. Buckley spent five years playing the Boston Red Sox farm system, playing as high as Triple-A Pawtucket in 2005 and 2006. Most recently, Buckley has been the Head baseball instructor at All-Pro Sports Academy in Bellport, N.Y.

The Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League has had some fairly notable alumni move on to the majors including Jamie Moyer (Cubs), Frank Viola (Mets / Twins) and Walt  Weiss (Athletics).

The team’s roster this season includes thirty-two players attending colleges and universities across the country, who hail from hometowns as close as right here in Sag Harbor and as far as Seymour, TX and Las Vegas, NV.

Left fielder Ryan Miller, a freshman at SUNY Cobleskill, calls Sag Harbor home, and C Michael Rodriguez, a Junior at Pace, is from East Hampton.

With only three games played, “the stars of the team have yet to show they’re day in and day out ability to be consistent,” said coach Buckley, but if Tuesday’s game in Westhampton was any indication, the players are beginning to adapt to the use of wood bats for the first time in game situations.

“We began swinging the bats well on Tuesday,” said Buckley. “Luke Campbell had two big hits for us and was tough all day.” Right fielder Kevin Grove also came up big for the Whalers, hitting a three-run homer in the first inning, helping the Whalers get out to an early 5-0 lead in the top of the first.

Pitching has been sharp too according to Buckley. The starting pitching rotation so far has been Ryan Bresnahan, Anthony Mannuccia and Sam Robertson. “All of them thus far have pitched very well,” said Buckley. Bresnahan gave up only one run over six innings, Mannuccia pitched five scoreless and Robertson gave up two over five innings.

In Tuesday’s game at Westhampton, Kyle Prohovich came in to relieve Elmore in the top of the sixth for a bases  loaded, one out situation and got the batter to hit into a double-play on one pitch. Not bad.

The defense saw some cohesion on Tuesday as well. After committing two errors in each of the first two games, none were made in the win in Westhampton.

In addition to playing baseball, the Sag Harbor Whalers are involved in community outreach with local schools. The players participated in the daily morning program at Sag Harbor Elementary last friday, and will be attending a barbecue at Bridgehampton School this Thursday night.

Because most of the players are from different parts of the state, and in many instances different parts of the country, there resources are somewhat limited when it comes to finding summer jobs in the hamptons, a task that can be daunting even for local residents.

Anyone with information about summer jobs or anyone interested in housing a player can contact General Manager Tom Gleeson at (516) 361-0998 or General Manager Sandi Kruel at (631)725-9138.

Also, be sure to come see Legendary Yankees pitcher Tommy John who will be in attendance at Saturday’s Westhampton vs. Sag Harbor rematch which starts at 5 p.m. in Mashashimuet Park. John will be there at 5 to meet and greet players and fans from the community.

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.