A rain delay on May 28 interrupted what proved to be the deciding game of the county Class C baseball series, at which time Pierson High School’s Whalers were sailing along on the crest of a 7-0 lead.
Jon Tortorella, Pierson’s coach, would rather the game had continued that day, noting that soon after the postponement decision it stopped raining. But, in the end, it mattered little as the Whalers, who went 19-1 in the regular season, continued to dominate Port Jefferson on May 29, winning the championship 9-4.
As a result, Pierson was to have played 8-9 Friends Academy in the Long Island Class C championship game Monday at Farmingdale State University. The winner of that game was to have played the Haldane-Chester winner in the regional final yesterday, and a win in that contest would have advanced the Whalers to the Final Four in Binghamton Saturday.
Jake Bennett started on the mound for Pierson on the 28th, blanking the Royals through the first three frames.
Meanwhile, he and his teammates did well at the plate, scoring one run in the bottom of the first inning and six in the bottom of the third.
Pierson’s third began with a line-drive single by Kyle Sturmann, after which Jack Fitzpatrick laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt. A passed ball enabled Sturmann to advance to third base. Joe Sherry, the eighth-grade third baseman, then drew a walk, and Aaron Schiavoni, Pierson’s big catcher, drove a changeup to the base of the left-field fence some 350 feet away.
That booming double scored one run, and with runners at second and third, Forrest Loesch followed with an authoritative double of his own for a 4-0 Pierson lead.
One out later, a wild pitch enabled Loesch to go to third, and he came home when Port Jeff’s shortstop bobbled a grounder hit his way by Tim Markowski. That brought up Bennett, who crushed the Whalers’ third double of the inning, a drive that found the gap in left-center and sent Markowski all the way around from first with the Whalers’ sixth run.
It still wasn’t over, however. Nick Kruel, who was to pitch the final four innings the next day, drew a walk, after which Sturmann, in his second plate appearance of the inning, lined a single over third to load the bases for Fitzpatrick, who also was walked, upping Pierson’s lead to 7-0. A force at second ended the highly productive inning.
Tortorella and his assistants, Henry Meyer and Benito Vila, did their best to dry out the mound before the fourth was to begin, but, with a light rain continuing to fall, the umpires said that that was enough for that day.
Kruel, as aforesaid, replaced Bennett — and Bennett replaced Kruel at first base — when the game resumed in the top of the fourth on the 29th.
The knuckleballer was treated roughly by the visitors initially. With runners at first and second, and one out, Kruel overthrew first in fielding a nubber hit his way, allowing one run to score, after which he gave up back-to-back run-scoring singles, for 7-3. Following an infield popout, Kruel hit a batter, loading the bases, and subsequently walked in the Royals’ fourth run on a 3-2 pitch out of the zone. He then stanched the bleeding by way of a strikeout.
The Whalers went scoreless in their half as Markowski stranded Loesch at second, flying out to left field.
Kruel began to settle down in the top of the fifth, sandwiching a hit batsman between two infield groundouts and a strikeout. He retired the side in order in the sixth.
In the bottom half, the Whalers tacked on two more runs to their total. A high throw from Port Jeff’s third baseman enabled Sherry, who was leading off, to go all the way to second. Loesch followed a high infield popout by Schiavoni with a too-hot-to-handle single that scored Sherry, and after a flyout and a theft of second by Loesch, Markowski drove in Loesch with a double, treating Pierson to a 9-4 lead. A single by Bennett put runners at the corners for Kruel, but his groundout to first ended the inning.
Another throwing error to first by Kruel, after fielding a chopper that led off the top of the seventh, prompted Tortorella to visit the mound, but there was no need to worry as Kruel went on to retire the visitors’ second, third, and fourth hitters in succession, clinching the county Class C championship for Pierson.