The numbers that the Pierson baseball team has put up in League IX this season have been staggering.
And head coach Jon Tortorella couldn’t care less.
As he’s watched his team dominate week in and week out in the league, improving to 16-1 with another dominant sweep of Shelter Island last week, he’s insisted that his focus has been less on numbers and stats and more on consistent improvement by every member of the team.
He got exactly what he wanted in the Shelter Island series, where the Whalers won, 9-0, 10-0 and 18-5, in three games. A combination of stellar pitching and lights-out hitting led to the lopsided scores.
“The amount of runs we scored were irrelevant,” Tortorella said. “It was about the quality of our at-bats and doing things at the plate that will lead to runs in the playoffs.”
Still, it’s worth mentioning what the Whalers have accomplished this year. In 17 games, they’ve allowed just 33 runs, an average of 1.94 per game. And they’ve scored more than 160 runs on the season. (The total, based on the reported scores, is 162, although there have been a few games where the reported final score has been lower than the actual score out of respect to the opposing team).
Holding opponents to less than two runs per game can be credited to great pitching, led by lefty number one starter Colman Vila, who had his first career no-hitter in the series opening 9-0 win on Monday. He struck out 17 and walked one in the complete-game effort. Vila has been nearly unstoppable this year, and Tortorella said it isn’t a surprise.
“Colman is a baseball player, he loves this game,” Tortorella said. “He plays year-round, and practices all the time, whether it be throwing at the park with [father Benito Vila], playing summer and fall ball or spending time at All-Pro.”
Vila, a senior, is hoping to play baseball at the University of Delaware next year, according to Tortorella.
While Vila has garnered most of the attention for his dominance on the mound, he isn’t Pierson’s only strong pitcher. Number two starter Jake Bennett has become a force as well, and had what Tortorella said was his “best outing of the year” in a 10-0 shutout at Shelter Island on May 2. Bennett allowed just one hit in that game and struck out six while allowing two walks.
“He had life on his fastball and a good feel for his off-speed stuff,” Tortorella said. “His starts are getting better every week and he’s definitely getting into playoff form.”
Vila and Bennett kept the Indians off home plate for the first two games of the series, but the Whalers provided plenty of ultimately unnecessary run support. In the opening game, Tim Markowski had three RBIs, while John Chisholm had two RBIs and a double. Forrest Loesch had two RBIs, a double and two walks, and Vila added two hits. In the second game, Jack Fitzpatrick, Aaron Schiavoni and Nick Kruel all had three hits, while Kruel and Joe Faraguna had four RBIs each. Loesch homered in the game as well.
In the final game, Pierson had a total of 23 hits on the day. Vila, Chisholm and Sherry each had three hits, while Sherry and Bennett each had three RBIs.
“We played really well the last two games of this series,” Tortorella said. “Every aspect of our game was where we need it to be. Defense was consistent and everyone made plays.”
Pierson was scheduled to begin its final series of the regular season, with Stony Brook, on Monday. (For results, see this week’s Monday Roundup article). The Whalers will also play Southampton in a pair of scrimmages before the start of the postseason. Southampton wrapped up the League VIII regular season title last week and is headed to the Class B playoffs, while Pierson will play in the Class C bracket. The Class C playoffs will start on Monday, May 20.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Tuesday, 5/7, at Stony Brook, 4:30 p.m.; Thursday, 5/9, vs. Stony Brook, 4:30 p.m.; Tuesday, 5/14, vs. Southampton (scrimmage), 4 p.m.; Thursday, 5/16, at Southampton (scrimmage), 4 p.m.