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.
“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.”