03/15/15 12:00pm
03/15/2015 12:00 PM
Southold shortstop Noah Mina, an all-league choice last year, is part of an infield that coach Mike Carver said has no weakness. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Southold shortstop Noah Mina, an all-league choice last year, is part of an infield that coach Mike Carver said has no weakness. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Don’t forget.

That is the message Mike Carver has conveyed to his players on the Southold High School baseball team.

A season can get away from a team real quickly if it isn’t careful. The First Settlers found that out the hard way.

(more…)

11/08/14 10:43pm
11/08/2014 10:43 PM
Rhinebeck's Eric Rodriguez knocks the winning penalty kick beyond the reach of Southold goalkeeper John Charles Funke. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Rhinebeck’s Eric Rodriguez knocks the winning penalty kick beyond the reach of Southold goalkeeper John Charles Funke. (Credit: Garret Meade)

SOUTHEAST REGION CLASS C FINAL | HAWKS 1, FIRST SETTLERS 1 (HAWKS WIN IN PKS, 3-1)

Asked to sum up his Southold High School boys soccer team’s season, coach Andrew Sadowski needed only one sad word. “Short,” he said.

As in too short.

The First Settlers had hoped to extend their season another week with a place in the New York State Class C semifinals, but it wasn’t to be. They were denied by two dreaded words: penalty kicks. (more…)

08/28/14 10:00am
08/28/2014 10:00 AM
Sean Moran and his Southold teammates indicated they are chasing something bigger than a county championship this year. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Sean Moran and his Southold teammates indicated they are chasing something bigger than a county championship this year. (Credit: Garret Meade)

On the first official day of soccer practice, players certainly can dream.

Some high school teams have modest goals in that they just want to improve their lot. Others want to transform themselves from a mediocre side into a competitive one. While yet others want to contend for a league or even county title.

The Southold High School boys team can dream, too, although the First Settlers have some loftier goals. They want to reach for the sky and are hopeful of completing the season in upstate Middletown on Nov. 16 on a joyous note. (more…)

07/25/14 10:49pm
07/25/2014 10:49 PM
Rocky Point's John Drews, left, running shoulder to shoulder with Southold's Alex Lincoln. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Rocky Point’s John Drews, left, running shoulder to shoulder with Southold’s Alex Lincoln. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Don’t sell the Southold First Settlers short.

Sure, the First Settlers may get caught playing shorthanded every now and then, but they can’t be faulted for coming up short on effort. (more…)

11/21/13 10:20pm
11/21/2013 10:20 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shayne Johnson's explosiveness and ability to soar through the air could produce some dunks this coming season.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shayne Johnson’s explosiveness and ability to soar through the air could produce some dunks this coming season.

When it comes to pure athleticism, there aren’t many, if any, athletes in Southold High School who can match Shayne Johnson. Johnson runs like a deer, glides in the air like an osprey and, if that isn’t enough, his basketball game just seems to be getting better and better.

The 5-foot-11 Johnson plays as if he has springs in his legs. He is the only Southold player who can dunk, something fans may get to see this coming season if the opportunity presents itself.

Ironically, it was Johnson’s dunking ability that got him into some trouble this past spring. After dunking a ball, he landed awkwardly and broke his left wrist, putting an early end to his baseball season.

“I got the dunk,” Johnson said. “I did the hard part but didn’t land it, the easy part.”

At first, Johnson was told he would need surgery and have pins put in his wrist, but a doctor was able to put the wrist back in place, expediting his return to sports, and Johnson played soccer for the First Settlers this fall.

But Johnson hasn’t played much basketball since the injury. The junior forward played only about a half of each of the final three games for Southold in a summer league, and that was about it until the First Settlers started practice on Wednesday.

“It’s weird, though,” Johnson said after Thursday’s practice. “I feel rusty still because after I broke my wrist, I didn’t play much since then. I have to get back into it and get used to it all again.”

Nevertheless, observers say they have liked what they have seen from Johnson, who they say looks stronger and faster than he was a year ago.

“It seems like he got a lot faster and he can jump higher so he’ll be good for the fast break,” junior forward Alex Poliwoda said. “He’s always been able to jump like that, so it’s no surprise to see him able to get up that high.”

Southold coach Phil Reed has noticed the new, improved Shayne Johnson.

“He is quick, fast and, you know what, I think this gym is not big enough for him,” Reed said. “He looks a lot faster. He looks a lot more athletic this year. I think last year he was learning to play on the varsity level. … Now he’s got confidence.”

Johnson also has a little old school in him.

“I’m watching him finger roll during warmups,” Reed said, “and I’m like: ‘Whoa! Where did you learn that stuff? That’s going back to the ’70s, early ’80s.’ ”

Reed said, “If we can get Shayne in the weight room a little bit, get him working out a little more and get stronger, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him dunking on a regular basis.”

Johnson said his left wrist gets sore every now and then. “Sometimes catching the ball hurts, but it’s nothing I can’t work through,” he said.

On the plus side, he said he feels he is more explosive now.

Johnson is among a cast of returning players for Southold that includes All-League junior Liam Walker, Kenji Fujita, Kevin McGough, James Penny, Michael Ryan and Poliwoda. The First Settlers are hoping for a better showing than last season, when they went 4-13.

“This is our year,” Johnson said. “If we’re going to go anywhere, this is it, and we’ll do it.”

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05/20/13 7:26pm
05/20/2013 7:26 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold's Anthony Fedele was tagged out by Pierson/Bridgehampton catcher Aaron Schiavoni while trying to score what would have been a tying run in the sixth inning.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold’s Anthony Fedele was tagged out by Pierson/Bridgehampton catcher Aaron Schiavoni while trying to score what would have been a tying run in the sixth inning.

SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS C TOURNAMENT | WHALERS 2, FIRST SETTLERS 1

As far as losses go, this one felt pretty good.

At least that’s how it sounded, listening to the Southold First Settlers following their playoff defeat on Monday. Of course, one must keep in mind a few things. First of all, Southold didn’t lose to just any baseball team; it lost to top-seeded Pierson/Bridgehampton, the defending Suffolk County Class C champion and winner of all but one of the 20 games it played this year. And Southold didn’t lose to just any pitcher. Colman Vila is one of the top pitchers in the county, with an 8-0 record and a sparkling clean 0.00 earned run average from 64 innings of work. Finally, the margin of victory was a single, solitary run.

Added to all of that is some exceptional defense played by No. 2 seed Southold, which gave itself a chance to win, only to come excruciatingly short, 2-1, at Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor.

Southold coach Mike Carver saw too many good things from his young team to be brought down by the fact that the First Settlers (14-8) dropped to the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament for a game at home on Thursday against No. 3 Port Jefferson (6-13).

“That was the best game we played all year,” he said. “We showed something today. I’ve never been more proud of a baseball team I ever coached.”

Vila fired 16 strikeouts (two shy of his season high) as part of his three-hitter. Pierson/Bridgehampton’s 10th straight win brings the Whalers to within one win of another county title. That could come as soon as Saturday, when Pierson/Bridgehampton will host the winner of the Port Jefferson-Southold game. Southold defeated Port Jefferson, 15-7, in its first playoff game.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold's Noah Mina swinging at a pitch from Pierson/Bridgehampton's Colman Vila.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold’s Noah Mina swinging at a pitch from Pierson/Bridgehampton’s Colman Vila.

Pierson/Bridgehampton took a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning when Jack Fitzpatrick, who led off with a walk, scored on Southold’s only error of the day.

Southold pulled to within 2-1 in the sixth. With runners on first and second, Alex Poliwoda clocked a double to center field that scored Shayne Johnson. Anthony Fedele tried to follow him home on the same play but was thrown out. The Pierson/Bridgehampton center fielder, Fitzpatrick, fired a relay throw to third baseman Forrest Loesch, who in turn gunned the ball to catcher Aaron Schiavoni in a bang-bang play that may have saved the day for the Whalers.

“It was perfect,” said Pierson/Bridgehampton coach Jon Tortorella.

Pierson/Bridgehampton scored its first run in the second. Tim Markowski led off by drawing a walk. He later stole second base before racing home when Nick Kruel squeezed a single through the right side of the infield.

Vila was his usual dominant self. The senior left-hander had six strikeouts through the first nine batters he faced and a no-hitter going before the right-handed hitting Johnson went with a pitch and looped a double that landed inside the left-field line to start off the fourth.

“I just chopped at it,” Johnson said. “You just got to go with the ball sometimes.”

In addition to one unearned run, Vila gave up one walk. Vila has allowed only two runs this season, both unearned.

Rob Mahony went the distance, pitching for Southold. He gave up seven hits.

Mahony remained in the game after enduring a hard collision with Pierson/Bridgehampton’s designated hitter, Johnny Chisholm, in the sixth. While Mahony was tracking a popup by Chisholm near the first base line, Chisholm crashed into him, knocking the Southold pitcher hard to the ground. Chisholm was immediately called out and ejected from the game. Mahony took some practice pitches and remained on the mound. “He’s a tough kid,” said Carver.

After the game, Tortorella had a prolonged talk with his players in the outfield.

“I just wasn’t happy with how we operated there, to be honest with you, and it’s got nothing to do with baseball,” he told reporters afterward. “I feel like we let our emotions get the best of us a little bit. We didn’t act like we should be acting, like Pierson baseball players should be acting. They know that.”

Tortorella declined to make players available for interviews.

What kept Southold in the game was its defense. The fleet-footed Johnson made a fantastic lunging catch to deny Vila of a hit in the second. Another fine play was third baseman Poliwoda’s nice catch of a foul ball hit by Schiavoni in the fifth.

“Southold played really well,” Tortorella said. “They played like winners. They went out there, they competed and they made plays.”

Carver agreed. “If we play the way we played today, we can beat anybody,” he said. “They played well enough to win.”

Southold has lost all five games it has played against Pierson/Bridgehampton this year, but this was the closest of them all.

“We didn’t really beat them yet this year, but that was our chance,” Johnson said. “I felt like we were in it the whole game and we’ll definitely be back Saturday.”

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04/11/13 8:10pm
04/11/2013 8:10 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Aaron Schiavoni dove head first to score Pierson/Bridgehampton's second run in the first inning while the ball eluded Southold catcher Matt Stepnoski.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Aaron Schiavoni dove head first to score Pierson/Bridgehampton’s second run in the first inning while the ball eluded Southold catcher Matt Stepnoski.

WHALERS 12, FIRST SETTLERS 0

One could make a case that there wasn’t a lot of separation between the Pierson/Bridgehampton and Southold baseball teams when they played each other in last year’s Suffolk County Class C finals.

That can’t be said now.

The gap between the teams has widened considerably. After Pierson/Bridgehampton won the 2012 county finals in three games, the Whalers went on to claim a Long Island championship and reach the state semifinals. They have been moving further away from Southold ever since.

That was evident by the four-game League IX series that Pierson/Bridgehampton swept with a 12-0 result at Southold High School on Thursday. The Whalers outscored Southold, 51-12, during the series. They looked sharp in every facet of the game. Some are convinced that the Whalers have gotten even better since last year.

“They definitely have,” said Southold sophomore Sean Moran, who played second base instead of catcher on Thursday in order to give his right throwing arm some rest. “I think their chemistry is better this year … and they’re more solid on defense, and they’re hitting up and down the lineup. It’s a tough team to beat.”

That explains Pierson/Bridgehampton’s record: eight wins from eight games.

The record doesn’t lie.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold's Anthony Esposito catching a fly ball in deep left field, with Shayne Johnson nearby.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Southold’s Anthony Esposito catching a fly ball in deep left field, with Shayne Johnson nearby.

“They’re a good team,” Southold coach Mike Carver said. “They got offense. They got defense. They don’t make mistakes. They got pitching. It would not be unrealistic to see them have an undefeated season.”

Pierson/Bridgehampton lost eight players — about half of them starters — from last year’s team, but as coach Jon Tortorella pointed out, “We also brought a lot back.”

Southold (3-5, 3-5), notorious for its slow starts to seasons, has begun to tighten up its defense. It wasn’t sloppy fielding that cost the First Settlers on Thursday, but tough pitching.

Forrest Loesch brought his record to 2-0, pitching five shutout innings and holding Southold to three hits. He struck out six and walked one.

Pierson/Bridgehampton scored in every inning but one as Colman Vila produced three hits, including a pair of doubles. Tim Markowski, Aaron Schiavoni and Loesch knocked in two runs each.

“All one through nine of them can hit,” Southold center fielder Shayne Johnson said. “Not one of them is really a bad hitter, and they all field well.”

Both of Pierson/Bridgehampton’s runs in the first inning came on the same play. Loesch (2 for 3) smacked a single, scoring Jack Fitzpatrick. Schiavoni followed him home when the ball slipped past an outfielder.

But the major damage came in the second. The Whalers struck for five runs from run-scoring singles by Kyle Sturmann and Loesch, a bases-loaded walk by Markowski, and a fielding error that allowed two runs to cross home plate.

Thanks to Vila’s run-scoring double in the third, Pierson/Bridgehampton held an 8-0 lead by the time Southold got its first hit, a two-out infield single by Johnson in the third inning.

The game was as good as over.

“We could have definitely hit the ball better than we did in this series,” Moran said. “It was rough.”

Southold may have felt as if it let the third game of the series, a 14-9 loss on Wednesday, slip through its fingers. The problem was errors. How many of them?

“Too many to count,” said Carver.

Speaking of that game, Johnson said, “We probably should have had that one.” He added: “Simple mistakes are being made here and there. We just need to work on fielding a little more and hitting the ball throughout the whole order.”

Southold made two errors on Thursday; Pierson/Bridgehampton had none.

The young First Settlers are making progress, though, said Carver. “We’re making less and less mistakes every day,” he said.

Looking at the bright side of things, the First Settlers can take note that they will not see the Whalers again this year — unless they meet in the playoffs.

“That’s the good news,” Carver said. “It was a tough week.”

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