05/21/15 12:00pm
05/21/2015 12:00 PM
John Drinkwater of Greenport led all of Suffolk County in home runs this season. (Credit: Daniel De Mato, file)

John Drinkwater of Greenport led all of Suffolk County in home runs this season. (Credit: Daniel De Mato, file)

As the Greenport Porters’ season progressed, every at-bat for senior John Drinkwater became an event in itself. Forget the score, forget the standings, all eyes trained on Drinkwater as he stepped into the batter’s box.

Where was he about to hit the next ball?  (more…)

03/11/15 6:00pm
03/11/2015 6:00 PM
Mike Sage, directing Tuesday's indoor practice, is Greenport's new varsity coach. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

Mike Sage, directing Tuesday’s indoor practice, is Greenport’s new varsity coach. (Credit: Daniel De Mato)

A quick scan of the Greenport High School baseball players loosening up their arms by playing catch is all one needs to notice the most obvious change in the Porters from last season: There are more of them.

Last year the Porters played mostly with only nine or 10 players, leading them to nickname themselves the “Notorious Nine.” With the start of preseason practice this week, the Porters are looking at about 20 players, quite a jump, although tempered a bit by the fact that they are not fielding a junior varsity team this season.

“Last year we were the Notorious Nine,” Greenport senior Matt Drinkwater said. “Now we’re the Twinkling Twenty.”

(more…)

08/26/14 10:00am
08/26/2014 10:00 AM
Matt Drinkwater, a returning starter at quarterback and linebacker, was an all-league first team selection last year. (Credit: Garret Meade)

Matt Drinkwater, a returning starter at quarterback and linebacker, was an all-league first team selection last year. (Credit: Garret Meade)

The mere mention of the Drinkwater twins conjures images of smiling, happy faces. They are a fun-loving pair.

For John and Matt Drinkwater, a good humor is part of the game. It keeps teammates loose. Laughter can be good preparation for taking the field, where those smiles are turned into game faces and they get serious about the job to be done. (more…)

09/12/13 11:00pm
09/12/2013 11:00 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Mattituck's Connor Malone, left, and Gene Allen sandwiched Wyandanch's Kamar Harris, who was unable to catch this pass.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Mattituck’s Connor Malone, left, and Gene Allen sandwiched Wyandanch’s Kamar Harris, who was unable to catch this pass.

PORTERS 38, WARRIORS 0

The 13-game losing streak is history.

Greenport/Southold/Mattituck happily bid it farewell Thursday night by not only snapping the skid, but obliterating it. Wyandanch was the unfortunate football team that got in the way.

“It’s gone, gone, gone, nowhere to be found,” proclaimed Connor Andersen, the Porters’ happy fullback and middle linebacker.

Matt Drinkwater threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as the Porters dominated their season opener, a 38-0 trouncing of Wyandanch. The game at Greenport High School’s Dorrie Jackson Memorial Field was stopped with 7 minutes 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter when the Wyandanch quarterback, Taquan Brooks, suffered what appeared to be a serious leg injury during a scramble for a fumble. While preparations were being made to carry Brooks into a Greenport Fire Department Rescue Squad vehicle, officials decided to end the game.

Talking about his team’s performance, Drinkwater said, “I think the score speaks for itself.”

Perhaps “shouts for itself” would be more like it.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Mattituck's Codey Fisher pulled on Wyandanch quarterback Taquan Brooks' jersey while Jon Bakowski (60) closes in.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport/Southold/Mattituck’s Codey Fisher pulled on Wyandanch quarterback Taquan Brooks’ jersey while Jon Bakowski (60) closes in.

No. 13 seed Greenport/Southold/Mattituck and No. 14 Wyandanch are the two lowest-seeded teams in Suffolk County Division IV, but the Porters didn’t play like a No. 13 seed as they posted their first win since September of 2011 when they beat Stony Brook. The combination of Drinkwater’s all-around play and the shutout performance by the Porters’ defense was too much for Wyandanch to handle.

Drinkwater played unquestionably the best game of his career. The junior quarterback went 5 of 9 passing for 71 yards, with three of those completions going for touchdowns, two by Gene Allen, the other by Christian Angelson. Drinkwater did all of his damage over the first three quarters; he was spelled at quarterback in the fourth quarter by Dylan Marlborough.

Drinkwater credited the large offensive line in front of him. “I really want to attribute a lot of that to our offensive line,” he said. “I had plenty of time today. The pockets were great, the throwing lanes were great, and I was able to find the open guy. I had time.”

Drinkwater didn’t do badly as an outside linebacker, either. He spearheaded the tough Porters defense with a game-high 8 tackles (two for a loss), a sack and a pass deflected.

The Porters limited Wyandanch to 79 yards in offense (52 rushing and 27 passing) and five first downs. Three Warriors finished the game with minus rushing yardage, and Brooks was sacked four times. Wyandanch went 1 for 9 on third-down plays and completed only three passes.

“We stopped their run game,” Andersen said. “We were a little worried about their pass game, but we shut that down real quick.”

Another factor was penalties, 13 of which cost Wyandanch 75 yards.

It wasn’t Drinkwater’s arm, but his legs that opened the scoring 8:08 into the game when he darted into the end zone on a 31-yard quarterback keeper.

A punt block by Sal Loverde and recovery by Jon Bakowski set up the Porters’ second score, a 20-yard field goal by John Drinkwater, Matt’s twin brother, six seconds into the second quarter.

Matt Drinkwater then hooked up with Allen for touchdown connections of 12 and 32 yards, helping to make the score 24-0 by halftime.

A 24-yard reception by Angelson in the third quarter and a 3-yard run by Bill McAllister in the fourth accounted for the last two touchdowns.

“Our offense and our defense are both clicking amazingly,” Matt Drinkwater said. “We’re putting it all together now. We have a chance to do something really special with this team.”

The Porters were disciplined, committing only two penalties, one of which nullified what would have been the game’s most electrifying play, a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown by Allen.

The game was brought to an early end when Brooks was injured while pursuing a fumble from a botched handoff. Allen said one of his teammates, Tyshe Williams, rolled on Brooks’ left leg, which medical personnel later put in an air cast.

Porters coach Jack Martilotta said his team is different from last year’s squad in many ways. “We were able to get the kids into the weight room and get them lifting, and there’s a certain pride I feel that they have in this now,” he said.

It is also apparent that the Porters grew tired of losing, whether it be by blowouts, close games or anything in between, and were determined to do something about it. Still, the dramatic turnaround was glaring.

When one of his teammates was asked if he was surprised at how one-sided the game was, Allen smiled and interjected. “It’s not hard to believe,” he said. “We’re supposed to be doing this.”

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04/25/13 8:15pm
04/25/2013 8:15 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport third baseman Matt Drinkwater diving in vain for a ball that was hit into left field.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport third baseman Matt Drinkwater diving in vain for a ball that was hit into left field.

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.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | John Drinkwater was victimized by seven of the eight unearned runs Greenport conceded to Pierson/Bridgehampton.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | John Drinkwater was victimized by seven of the eight unearned runs Greenport conceded to Pierson/Bridgehampton.

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.

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04/22/13 7:57pm
04/22/2013 7:57 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport third baseman Matt Drinkwater fielding a throw from catcher Christian Angelson in a failed attempt to throw a runner out.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Greenport third baseman Matt Drinkwater fielding a throw from catcher Christian Angelson in a failed attempt to throw a runner out.

WHALERS 16, PORTERS 0

Not many high school baseball pitchers would dare set as a goal going through an entire regular season without allowing an earned run. It’s so difficult as to make it almost unthinkable — unless you are Colman Vila.

Then again, Vila is hardly your average pitcher.

Vila is regarded by some as the best pitcher in League IX, and his performance on Monday was just another example why. Pierson/Bridgehampton’s pitching standout turned in another typical outing — for him — and when it was over, his 0.00 earned run average remained intact.

Vila recorded 13 strikeouts over five innings and shared the shutout with Nick Kruel as the Whalers handed Greenport a 16-0 pounding. Vila (5-0) walked none and allowed only two hits, both singles off the bat of Matt Drinkwater, who had a 3-for-3 day at windy Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor. With the result, the Whalers (11-1, 11-1) clinched a third straight playoff berth under coach Jon Tortorella.

Vila has been automatic for Pierson/Bridgehampton when he takes the mound.

“He’s been attacking hitters, and not many guys have been putting balls in play,” Tortorella said. “It’s a confidence knowing that. We know he’s going to go out there and throw a good game.”

The Porters (5-7, 5-7) were under no illusion. They knew what they were up against.

“We knew it was going to be tough,” Drinkwater said. “We knew it was going to be a rough one. He’s a great pitcher.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Christian Angelson of Greenport making contact.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Christian Angelson of Greenport making contact.

A true ace, Vila spotted his pitches well, kept batters guessing as he mowed one down after another, and was so dominant that at times the senior left-hander even seemed to be toying with them.

Vila caught five batters looking at called third strikes. He struck out the side in the second and fifth innings, and fanned the final five batters he faced.

“I felt good,” he said. “I was really trying to work on hitting my spots with my fastball and keep them off-balance with a curveball.”

Tortorella said he has seen a progression in Vila over the past three years. “He’s gotten drastically better year to year,” said the coach.

Vila, who after the game said he is leaning toward making Delaware his college choice, said it doesn’t hurt that he’s a lefty. “A lot of kids don’t see lefties out here,” he said.

After Vila was relieved before the start of the sixth, Greenport picked up hits from Bryant Rivas, Drinkwater, Timmy Stevens and Eddie Rogers, but was still unable to score.

With Vila on the mound, the Whalers were armed, dangerous and determined, coming off their only loss so far, a 4-2 defeat to Smithtown Christian on Friday.

“We needed to bounce back,” Vila said. “We did what we needed to do.”

That includes hitting. Tim Markowski, who drove in three runs, enjoyed a three-hit game as did Jack Fitzpatrick. Aaron Schiavoni and Kyle Sturmann added two runs batted in each.

The first inning was the only one in which the Whalers batted that they did not score. After that, their half of the linescore read: 3-3-2-2-6.

“Colman was great again, our bats were good,” Tortorella said. “There were a lot of good things today.”

Nine Whalers managed at least one hit as their team collected 13 of them and played errorless defense.

The same could hardly be said for Greenport, which played sloppily in the field, with four errors that translated into five unearned runs.

“We have our good days and our bad days,” Greenport coach Chris Golden said. “It wasn’t one of our better days.”

He added: “When you play a team like this, you have to play as close to a perfect game as you can, especially when you’re facing that kid [Vila]. There’s a reason why they’re [11] and 1, or whatever it is in league. They’re a good baseball team all around. You just got to try to minimize the mistakes and hope for the best.”

Golden said the advice he gives his batters going up against Vila is to look for the first good pitch they can swing at and go for it.

What was Drinkwater’s secret hitting against Vila, who throws four-seam and two-seam fastballs, curveballs and changeups?

“It’s trying to get inside of his head,” Drinkwater said. “It’s important to try to figure out what he’s going to come to you with.”

Obviously, that’s easier said than done.

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03/26/13 3:00pm
03/26/2013 3:00 PM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Greenport sophomore Matt Drinkwater opened the season yesterday with a no-hitter against Shelter Island.

Throw strikes.

Those words may end up on Chris Golden’s tombstone one day. When the Greenport baseball coach counsels his pitchers, he harps on the same theme, time and time again.

“Strikes, strikes, strikes, strikes,” Golden said. “That’s what I tell all these pitchers: throw strikes. It keeps your pitch count down.”

It did a lot more for Greenport sophomore Matt Drinkwater. The right-hander pitched his first career no-hitter — in the season opener, no less — on Monday when the Porters defeated host Shelter Island, 6-3, in the first game of a Suffolk County League IX doubleheader. Greenport won the second game, too, 13-3.

Drinkwater, who didn’t pitch much for Greenport last year, relied primarily on his fastball to silence the Indians’ bats. He recorded 10 strikeouts and issued six walks as part of his 105-pitch outing. All three Shelter Island runs were unearned. Greenport committed four errors, including three in the fifth inning when Shelter Island scored three times, making the score 5-3.

“I thought he had good movement on his ball and good velocity,” Golden said. “It was a simple, simple philosophy: Throw strikes and work ahead from the count, and it was to his advantage the whole way.”

Along the way, Drinkwater received a little help from his friends, too. Austin Hooks made a nice running catch of a fly ball in right field. Second baseman Wilson Morales did well to collect a hard-hit ground ball. Eddie Rogers turned in a circus catch in center field.

Drinkwater also helped his own cause, going 2 for 4 and driving in four runs with his bat in the first game. He hit a home run in the second game, which also saw teammate Christian Angelson go 3 for 4 with two doubles and three runs batted in.

“He’s in baseball shape,” said Golden, who noted that Drinkwater and his twin brother, John Drinkwater, both play baseball in the off-season. “He threw the ball just as well in the seventh inning as he did in the first inning. He’s definitely bigger and stronger, you can see, and as a result, he’s more confident in his ability.”

Matt Drinkwater wasn’t the only Greenport pitcher to have a good day. Hooks went the distance in the second game, firing 14 strikeouts in a three-hitter. He allowed four walks. Hooks needed only 50 pitches through four innings, but finished with 100.

Golden said the decision on who to start, Matt Drinkwater or Hooks, in the season-opening game came down to them guessing a number between one and 10. Matt Drinkwater came the closest to guessing the number, so he had the honor of the first game assignment.

Asked if he was aware of the no-hitter in progress, Golden said: “No, I don’t pay any attention to that stuff, to tell you the truth. I was more concerned about the pitch count than anything else, especially this early in the year.”

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