Whalers swept in heartbreaking fashion

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With a 10-4 lead in the fourth inning in the finale of a three-game series with Center Moriches, it looked as though the Pierson baseball team was on its way to picking up a victory and avoiding a sweep at the hands of the Red Devils in Center Moriches on April 22. But as a famous ball player once pointed out, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

With the wisdom of Yogi Berra on their side, the Red Devils roared back to stun the Whalers 13-12 in extra innings in the second game of the doubleheader. Chris DelGaudio scored the winning run by drawing a bases-loaded walk off Pierson’s Kyle McGowin in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Center Moriches got timely hitting late in the game, but a slew of errors by Pierson fielders also helped the Red Devils get back into it. Pierson had a good chance to score in the top of the eighth inning, when McGowin singled and stole his way to third base, but with two outs, Mike DePetris popped up to end the threat.

In the bottom of the ninth, Center Moriches had runners on first and second with one out, thanks to a hit and an error. The Red Devils loaded the bases after DePetris narrowly missed tagging a Red Devil runner who was headed from second to third base. DePetris dived to make the tag and missed, and the umpires ruled that the runner had not left the base path on the play and therefore was safe. DelGaudio’s walk followed that play.

Pierson head coach Sean Crowley said that throughout the course of the game, there were a few calls by the umpires that he thought were “curious,” but he made it clear that the umpires were not to blame for the loss. He also didn’t pin the blame on McGowin for issuing the walk.

“I told our guys that it was a frustrating loss, but the loss doesn’t come down to one call,” he said. “A lot of the time the pitcher feels responsible, but there were times along the way where his defense could have helped him out.”

In the first game of the day, Pierson was downed 8-3 and in the opener in Sag Harbor on April 21, the Whalers suffered a 7-3 loss, also in extra innings. The sweep dropped the Whalers to 5-7 in League VIII with nine games left to play. Because teams must finish with at least an even record in league games to make the playoffs, Pierson must now win six of its final nine contests for a return to the Class C playoffs.

The Whalers began a series with last-place Shelter Island/Ross on Tuesday and played the second game on Wednesday, April 30. They will wrap up the series on Friday in Sag Harbor at 4 p.m. On Tuesday, Pierson will travel to Port Jefferson to begin a series with the Royals at 4:30 p.m. and will host them on Wednesday at the same time. The series will wrap up in Port Jefferson on May 9 at 4:30 p.m. The final series of the regular season against Southold/Greenport will begin on May 13 in Sag Harbor, will move to the North Fork the following day and will wrap up in Sag Harbor on May 16. All three games are scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.

Port Jeff is the League VIII leader with an 11-1 record while Southold/Greenport is 8-4 and Shelter Island/Ross is winless in 12 league contests.

“We need to take care of business against Shelter Island and then we’ll need to win three more of those six games,” Crowley said on Monday, prior to the start of the Shelter Island/Ross series.

Because Port Jeff and Southold/Greenport are two of the better teams in the league, the Whalers will have to play their best baseball to get into the postseason. Pierson has had several close losses this year, which could come back to haunt them, but Crowley was optimistic on Monday that his players could get the job done.

“I think the kids that are really tuned in understand what it takes,” he said. “Especially the kids who were on the team last year, when it came down to the last day. I have a really good sense and a good feeling with this team. They stay together and they get along. Everyone has been pitching in.”

Statistics

Prior to the start of the Shelter Island/Ross series, Casey Crowley led the 
team with a .450 batting average and .589 on-base percentage. He was also tied for the lead in runs (14) with McGowin. Crowley and Joe Mascali also share the lead in hits with 18, while Mascali leads the team with 14 RBIs. Joe Dowling has the lead in total bases with 24.

On the mound, Mascali leads the team with 29 strikeouts in 28 innings, while Brandon Kruel has a 0.98 ERA in 14 and 1/3 innings of work.

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