While some might find it hard to believe, Pierson senior starting pitcher Colman Vila finally met his match on Saturday in the New York State Class C semifinals.
That, combined with the Whalers never being able to figure out Seton Catholic Central junior starting pitcher Michael Korchak, resulted in a 1-0 loss for Pierson on Hornet Field at the Broome Community College in Binghamton.
Seton Catholic (Section IV-Southern Tier) went on to defeat Geneseo 9-0 to take home the Class C state crown later on Saturday.
Pierson ended its season with an impressive 23-2 overall record, and Vila deserves plenty of the credit. He threw a no-hitter in the Long Island Championship on June 5 and then recorded the final five outs in the regional finals the following day.
Vila wound up allowing an unearned run on five hits while recording five strikeouts and a walk on Saturday.
“He did this on short rest and he’s been there every day for us whenever we asked him,” Pierson head coach Jon Tortorella said of Vila after the loss. “I told him before, ‘You’re a warrior out there today.’ He wasn’t as rested as he usually is, and didn’t get his throwing in between, and I just couldn’t be more proud of him. He put us in this spot.”
Korchak, on the other hand, was pitching with more than a week of rest, having pitched in the sectional final back on May 31 for the Saints, who were actually playing in their hometown of Binghamton. He struck out 12 and allowed just four hits and a walk en route to tossing a complete game shutout.
Korchak said his game plan was to limit the amount of free passes against Pierson.
“I just wanted to throw strikes and get [the ball] over,” he said. “I knew they could hit the ball, but I didn’t want to walk anyone cause I know they could come back to hurt me.”
After Pierson sophomore Jack Fitzpatrick led off the bottom of the first with a single up the middle, Korchak settled in nicely and struck out four of the next six batters he faced. The Whalers went on to strand runners on third base in the second and fourth innings. They also left a runner on second base in the bottom of the fifth.
Seton Catholic actually had fewer scoring chances than Pierson, but it took advantage of its one opportunity in the top of third inning.
With two outs, senior Joe Wasko hit a liner that was misplayed by Pierson senior right fielder Jake Bennett and the ball went over his head. Wasko wound up on third base with what was scored as a triple; it was the first hit of the game for the Saints.
Seton Catholic senior Connor Ligeikis then hit a pop up between first and second base, near the outfield grass. Pierson junior second baseman Kyle Sturmann tried making the sliding catch, but the ball popped out of his glove and Wasko scored from third for the game’s only run. Sturmann was tagged for the error on what was a tough play. Wasko had the only multi-hit game for either team.
“You know coming into these games that it’s going to be a battle,” Pierson junior catcher Aaron Schiavoni said. “Colman came out and pitched great, and gave us the best chance to win.
“I’d say [Korchak] was one of the toughest pitchers we faced all season,” he continued. “He pitched a great game and so did Colman.”
Pierson will now graduate one of its best pitchers to come through its system in Vila, who will attend the University of Delaware in the fall. Bennett, the team’s second-best pitcher, is also graduating along with Joe Faraguna.
Tortorella did not really want to talk about next season after Saturday’s loss.
“Next year is far away,” he said. “Right now, I’m just proud of these guys to be honest with you. You look around at their emotions right now … they wanted it bad.”
Schiavoni, who will be one of seven seniors next season, already has a specific goal in mind for next year.
“Come back here,” he said. “We know what it takes now. We know what we’re up against and we know this feeling. We’re going to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”