Errors Hurt as Port Jeff Wins Yet Another Class C Title

Kaci Koehne scored Pierson’s first run in the bottom of the fourth, having been driven in by Sam James’s single. Jack Graves

    Pierson (Sag Harbor) High School’s softball and baseball teams fell just short of county Class C championships last week, the girls losing two straight in a best-of-three final to Port Jefferson, and the boys losing at Mercy after splitting with Port Jeff.
    The Whalers’ baseball team reached the the final by defeating Port Jefferson 5-3 in a loser’s bracket showdown on May 27 as Jake Weingartner went all the way on the mound, allowing one earned run, giving up seven hits, walking one, and striking out six. Tyler Gilbride, who went 3-for-4, led the way at the plate.
    Mercy, the top seed — Pierson was the second — won 8-3 at the Riverhead school on May 31 to win the county Class C championship for the second straight year. Weingartner was the losing pitcher.
    During the regular season, the Whalers, whose coach is Jon Tortorella, took two of three from Port Jefferson and went 1-2 with Mercy, which finished atop League VIII with a 14-4 record.
    The Whaler girls, who split wins with their Port Jeff counterparts in the regular season, lost two straight to the Royals in the playoffs, with errors playing a key part in those games, the second of which — a 6-4 loss in eight innings — was played at Pierson on May 31.
    The visitors began by scoring two unearned runs in the top of the second inning. Following a single and a strikeout, the Royals’ eighth batter, Rachel London, who bunted, was allowed to reach first base safely when no one covered the bag.
Anastasia Lennon bunted as well, but Kasey Gilbride, Pierson’s third baseman, threw wide of Sam James at first, the error enabling the runner from third to score Port Jeff’s first run.
Michiko McGivney, the Royals’ left-handed pitcher and hard-hitting leadoff hitter, then lined a shot right at Kaci Koehne, the Whalers’ shortstop, that proved to be too hot to handle. That error loaded the bases for Mollie Gibson, whose fielder’s choice grounder toward third resulted in Port Jeff’s second run. Melanie Stafford, Pierson’s pitcher, who deserved better that day, retired Renee Marchewka on an infield groundout to end the inning.
Pierson got on the board with a run in the bottom of the fourth. After Lindsay Warne, who bunted, was thrown out third-to-first, Koehne beat out a grounder down the first baseline, and Melanie Stafford, the pitcher, and James, the Whalers’ cleanup hitter, followed with back-to-back singles. James’s, to right field, scored Koehne from third.
McGivney, who kept the Whalers off balance that day mixing changeups in with fastballs, prevented any further damage as, with runners at second and third, she retired Catherine Musnicki on a fly ball to center field and Nina Hemby on a third-to-first groundout.
    Port Jeff scored another unearned run in its fifth when, with two outs, McGivney, who had led off with a single, stole second, and advanced to third on a groundout that preceded a popup to James, scored on a throwing error by Koehne.
    Another Pierson error, this one by Musnicki, who overthrew second in trying to prevent Shannon Fee from stealing — an overthrow that enabled Fee to go on to third — led to Port Jeff’s fourth run in the top of the sixth as Lennon’s single to shallow center plated her.
    When Pierson came to bat in the bottom of the seventh, still trailing 4-1, things looked pretty bleak, but then they got interesting.
    Hemby, who led off, went all the way to second following a throwing error, and Sariah Cafiero, who bats eighth for the Whalers, rocked a double to center that scored Hemby with Pierson’s second run. Melissa Edwards, Pierson’s coach, then brought in an eighth grader, Samantha Duchemin, to pinch-hit, prompting a Royals conference on the mound.
    When play resumed, Duchemin was called out on strikes, but Gilbride, who had worked the count full, drew the first walk that McGivney had given up that afternoon, and Warne followed with a single to right to load the bases with one out for Koehne, Pierson’s number-three hitter.
    Koehne swung at a 2-0 pitch, driving the ball to Port Jeff’s shortstop, Marchewka, the fielder’s choice scoring Cafiero. With runners at first and second and two out, Stafford reached low for a McGivney changeup and sent a soft single into the outfield that plated Gilbride with the game-tying run. Koehne almost got picked off third on the play, but managed to slide back in under the tag.
    That brought up James with two outs and Koehne on third and Stafford on second, but Pierson’s first baseman popped out to the right fielder, Denise Nunez, to send the game into extra innings.
    Things didn’t go the Whalers’ way in the top of the eighth, however, as the Royals benefitted from two two-out Texas Leaguers that put them up 6-4.
    The first, by Lennon, to shallow right, scored Nunez, who had walked and had been sacrificed to second. The other, by McGivney, to shallow left, scored Lennon, who, following her run-scoring bloop to right, had stolen second.
    The Whalers went down rather quietly in their last at-bat. Musnicki, who led off, popped out to Marchewka at short after which Marchewka cleanly fielded a hard-hit one-hopper hit to her by Hemby, and threw Pierson’s left fielder out. Cafiero drew a walk, on a 3-1 pitch, but Duchemin grounded out third-to-first to end the game and the series.
    It was the fourth straight county Class C championship for Port Jeff, which has been the Long Island champion in the past three years as well.
    Stafford, aside from the six runs (three of them unearned), gave up nine hits, walked three, and struck out six.
    McGivney gave up four runs (two unearned), eight hits, walked two, and struck out six.