The last undefeated high school baseball team in Suffolk County is no longer undefeated.
Southold’s season-long run of 21 straight wins was snapped by Pierson/Bridgehampton on Tuesday, leveling the Suffolk Class C finals at a game apiece.
Pierson capitalized on an error that opened the door to three unearned runs and rallied behind the three-hit pitching of James Sherry in a 4-1 triumph at Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor. The decisive third game is set for Thursday in Southold.
Being on the losing side is a new experience for the First Settlers this year. The unhappy/angry looks on their faces afterward indicated how they felt about it.
“We’re definitely not used to it, going the entire season without this feeling, losing, and we’ll see what we’re made of when we got to bounce back Thursday,” shortstop Pat McFarland said. “We’ll see what this team is made of and how we react to it.”
Southold, the top-ranked Class C team in the state by the New York State Sportswriters Association (Pierson is ranked fourth), suddenly finds itself in a must-win situation after taking the first game of the series, 7-0, on Monday.
“Baseball sometimes is a funny game,” Pierson coach Sean Crowley said. “Sometimes the team that’s expected to win doesn’t.”
Southold had defeated Pierson in all five of its previous games this season against the Whalers, outscoring them, 37-4.
“And in the playoffs, that doesn’t mean anything,” said Southold coach Mike Carver.
What could have been an uneventful sixth inning proved to be anything but. Pierson’s first batter that inning, Cooper Schiavoni, reached base on an error when his grounder was misplayed. It was a costly error.
Although pitcher Luke Hansen retired the next two batters, Pierson rallied. A sharp single by Tom Brooks was followed by back-to-back walks by Sam Warne and Sherry, snapping a 1-1 tie. Matt Burke then came through with an RBI single for a 3-1 lead. Warne looked like a dead duck as he thought about following Brooks home on the play, but catcher Shane Zimmer chased him back and he somehow returned to third base safely.
All of that was enough to send Carver to the mound to pull Hansen and bring in reliever Adam Baldwin. The first batter Baldwin faced, Tyler LaBorne, rapped an RBI single, making it 4-1.
“We had a couple of chances that we didn’t produce on and we made a couple of hiccups,” Carver said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Hansen, a lefthander with a 7-1 record, had trouble keeping his pitches down. The junior allowed five hits and five walks, striking out seven. He also hit a batter.
“I just felt inconsistent the whole game with my control,” he said. “I don’t think my velocity was precisely where it should be.”
Meanwhile, Sherry was steady. The senior ace of Pierson’s staff, who had missed 10 games this season with a non-throwing shoulder injury, fired seven strikeouts and walked two. He threw 82 pitches.
The only run Sherry conceded came in the first inning. McFarland chopped a single through the middle and stole second base before Dylan Clausen drove him home with a two-out single.
Southold’s only other hit the rest of the game was Shane Zimmer’s leadoff single past the sprawling first baseman, LaBorne, in the sixth.
Pierson tied the score at 1-1 in the third when Burke bounced into a fielder’s choice, allowing Warne to score.
“We didn’t hit the ball well today and they hit,” McFarland said. “That’s what it really came down to.”
Now it all boils down to Game 3.
Said Crowley, “How about that?”
Photo caption: Pierson/Bridgehampton’s Sam Warne tied the score at 1-1 in the third inning when he scored on a fielder’s choice while Southold catcher Shane Zimmer received the late throw. (Credit: Garret Meade)