WHALERS 12, PORTERS 1
Nobody has to tell the Greenport Porters that errors are part of the game. They know only too well.
With only two players, twins John and Matt Drinkwater, who devote themselves to baseball year round, the Porters are under no illusion. They know errors are bound to happen. Misplayed fly balls. Booted ground balls. Wild pickoff attempts. It all comes with the territory.
“Unfortunately, we don’t do a lot to help our cause sometimes,” said Greenport coach Chris Golden, who used the word “erratic” to describe his team’s defense this season. “On some days we make good plays. More often than not, the ball gets the best of us.”
Thursday was one of those days.
It was a day in which Greenport committed 11 errors that led to eight unearned runs in visiting Pierson/Bridgehampton’s 12-1 win. The Porters had two more errors than the Whalers had hits.
“It’s a lot to overcome,” said Golden.
Golden said it wasn’t the roughest fielding day his team has experienced this season. The Porters have been through this before.
“We have a lot of guys, they just don’t play baseball year round,” Golden said. “You’re asking guys to be proficient at something that really is a hobby” for them.
Asked about the fielding miscues, Matt Drinkwater said: “Baseball is a fickle sport. Sometimes it’s there, and sometimes it’s not there.”
Not that first-place Pierson/Bridgehampton (13-1, 13-1), which is chasing a second straight League IX crown, really needed the Porters’ help.
The winning pitcher, Forrest Loesch, helped his own cause by driving in four runs as the Whalers completed a sweep of Greenport in the four-game series that saw the Porters outscored by 47-1.
In addition to rapping a two-run single and a two-run triple, Loesch allowed one run and three hits over four innings.
Aaron Schiavoni scored three runs and Tim Markowski knocked in two runs.
With the loss, Greenport (5-9, 5-9) needs to win five of its remaining six regular-season games (three each against The Stony Brook School and Southold) in order to claim a playoff spot. It may not be easy, but Matt Drinkwater said, “It’s definitely possible.” He added: “We’re going to try to take as many as we can from Stony Brook and take as many as we can from Southold, and hopefully we’ll be able to squeak our way into the playoffs. It’s still there. It’s still a possibility.”
It would also be quite an achievement. Golden said the last time Greenport reached the playoffs was probably during the 1980s.
In Pierson/Bridgehampton, the Porters saw a team they can aspire to be like. The Whalers are fundamentally sound defensively and don’t seem to have trouble retaining their sharpness, even in one-sided games.
“We talk about doing the little things all season, every day,” Pierson/Bridgehampton coach Jon Tortorella said. “It’s the little things, the stuff that almost seems like such a minor thing, but it adds up. It’s really the foundation of everything that you do.”
Greenport had some encouragement in the first inning when it brought in a run after successive singles by Austin Hooks, Matt Drinkwater and John Drinkwater. But it was all Pierson/Bridgehampton after that. Three-run rallies in each of the first two innings and a four-run burst in the fourth sent the Whalers well on the way to the victory.
Much of the damage suffered by the Porters was self-inflicted. Greenport’s starter, John Drinkwater, didn’t pitch badly, striking out eight over six innings. He gave up eight hits, four earned runs and three walks.
“If we cut down on the errors, we could compete with anybody,” said Greenport shortstop Timmy Stevens. “We just have to battle back from it sometimes.” Speaking of less experienced teammates, he said: “They’re young. They’re going to make a couple of mistakes here and there, but they’ll learn from them.”
Golden said it is not his job to berate his players when they make mistakes, but to offer encouragement.
“They feel bad,” he said. “You know, you make an error, you feel bad. There’s no sense compounding how they feel by making them feel worse.”
Matt Drinkwater said: “When we play good baseball, we play good baseball. It’s just when things start to go bad, the inexperience leads to more errors. When the game of baseball is played right, it’s like an art. It’s just a beautiful thing to watch.”
Other times, though, it’s not pretty.