The pressure of elimination games can be wearing. That is something the Greenport High School baseball team knows only too well.
Now, these aren’t playoff elimination games we’re talking about. We’re talking about games involving the potential for being eliminated from playoff contention.
On Monday the odds finally caught up with the Porters, who have been walking a tightrope in their long-shot bid for a place in the playoffs. Their hopes finally came crashing down with an 8-5 defeat to Pierson/Bridgehampton at Greenport’s Robbie Costantini Field.
Greenport shortstop Jordan Fonseca said, “I think everyone always had that in the back of their heads — ‘If we lose this one, we’re out.’ ”
So the Porters (6-11 overall and in Suffolk County League IX) are out of playoff contention, but not without turning in a courageous run. Following a 4-1 loss to Smithtown Christian on April 27, Greenport had no margin for error the rest of the way, needing to win its final eight regular-season games in order to reach the postseason. The Porters were halfway there with a 16-3 trouncing of Smithtown Christian, a pair of one-run triumphs over Stony Brook and a two-run win over Port Jefferson.
And then Pierson (14-4. 14-4) stuck a pin in Greenport’s balloon.
“It’s deflating, of course,” Greenport coach Mike Sage said. “We knew it was going to be a tall order to run the table this week. We had to play pretty perfect this week. Everything was going to have to fall right in place and unfortunately it just didn’t happen.”
All things considered, it’s a bit surprising that Greenport wasn’t taken out of playoff contention much earlier, after opening the season 1-10.
“We weren’t hitting at all at the beginning of the year,” Sage said. “We kind of righted the ship and we hung in there.”
Monday’s loss was only the team’s second in seven games.
“We just started playing as a team, started picking it up a little bit and started wanting to win,” rightfielder Remi Droskoski said. “Once we got [those] first couple of wins in a row, we started rolling from there.”
Catcher Matt Tuthill attributed Greenport’s turnaround to the power of positivity. “When we’re positive, we make all the plays, we hit,” he said.
Greenport had hitting difficulties Monday, managing only three hits, and two of them came off the bat of Fonseca, who had two RBIs and a double. The only other Porter to manage a hit was Jake Skrezec, who opened the game by shooting a single through the middle.
Of course, Pierson pitcher Sam Warna had something to do with Greenport’s hit total. Only one of the five runs scored off the righthander were earned. He walked three and struck out six before James Sherry took over for him with a perfect seventh inning for the save.
As has been the case throughout the season, Greenport battled. Although the Porters never led, they twice pulled to within one run of the Whalers, who scored five runs over the final three innings to secure the win.
Warna also had a big day at the plate. He went 3-for-4 with a double, scoring two runs and driving in two runs in addition to stealing a base. Teammate Aidan Crowley went 2-for-3 with two runs, an RBI and a walk.
Although Droskoski said Greenport has shown “remarkable” improvement from last year’s 3-17 team, the Porters will have to wait another year for a shot at the playoffs.
Said Tuthill, “It would have been nice.”
Photo caption: Greenport coach Mike Sage said: “It’s deflating, of course. We knew it was going to be a tall order to run the table this week.” (Credit: Bob Liepa)