After one of the most successful seasons in program history, the Pierson baseball team is hungry for more success and has the power to make it happen.
The Whalers will be favored to defend their Suffolk County and Long Island Class C Championship titles this season after losing just three players to graduation from a squad that went 23-2 and advanced to the state semifinals.
Of the three seniors who graduated, ace lefty pitcher Colman Vila will be the toughest to replace. Vila, who is now a redshirt freshman at the University of Delaware, was an All-County player, League IX Player of the Year and a Newsday All-Long Island selection. But the Whalers have more than enough experience and talent returning to offset his loss, as well as that of infielder Joe Faraguna and pitcher/outfielder Jake Bennett, an All-League player last year.
Pierson has one of the top players in the county in senior catcher Aaron Schiavoni. Schiavoni, who can also pitch and play first base, is in his third year as a captain and was an All-County player last season, as well as the recipient of the Sportsperson of the Year award, presented at the state tournament. In addition to his poise and expertise as the team’s quarterback behind the plate, Schiavoni is also an extremely dangerous power hitter who will give a lot of punch to a strong lineup for the Whalers. Pierson also brings back another All-County player in senior Forrest Loesch, who will return to his roles as a pitcher and shortstop this year. Loesch will move into the number one starter role on the mound this year and continue to play shortstop when he’s not pitching. Loesch is another strong hitter in the middle of Pierson’s lineup, and has made a name for himself as a talented three-sport athlete at Pierson, playing key roles on the soccer and basketball teams as well. Loesch was the MVP of the Suffolk County Class C playoffs last year.
In addition to Loesch, Pierson will be led in the pitching department by Nick Kruel and Tim Markowski, two more seniors who have plenty of experience. They were both All-League players last year and also saw significant time at first base, where they will likely be when they are not pitching. Markowski could also see time in the outfield. Senior Kyle Sturmann is another strong returning player who will reprise his role as the team’s starting second baseman. Right now, third base is the biggest question mark, with returning freshman James Sherry, returning junior John Chisholm, sophomore Ryan Chisholm and junior Charles Canavan competing for time. Sherry could also see time at shortstop when Loesch is pitching. The outfield will be anchored by returning junior Jack Fitzpatrick, an All-League player last year, as well as Markowski and junior Theo Gray.
Adding depth to Pierson’s pitching rotation, beyond its three projected starters, will be Sherry, Gray,and John Chisholm, while Ryan Chisholm, Sturmann, Canavan, senior Ulysses Poulmentis, Fitzpatrick and Schiavoni could potentially see time on the mound as well.
“We should have a deep rotation of pitchers this year,” Pierson head coach John Tortorella said.
While the Whalers won’t have bona fide ace like they had in Vila last year, Tortorella still expects his team to be top notch, mainly because of its vast experience and consistency in talent from top to bottom and in all areas of the game.
“We should be strong offensively,” he said. “We have a nice balance of speed, power, and hitters who can put the ball in play. The middle of our order will consist of Aaron Schiavoni, Forrest Loesch and Tim Markowski, while James Sherry, John Chisholm and Jack Fitzpatrick will provide speed and energy. Nick Kruel and Kyle Sturmann are good, smart hitters, and Theo Gray and Ulysses Poulmentis can be solid additions to the lineup.”
Tortorella said he expects both Smithtown Christian and Southold to be strong teams, and added that Greenport has several good players, while Stony Brook has been steadily improving.
Greenport and Smithtown Christian are in Class D, which means Pierson would not face them in the postseason.
Pierson was scheduled to start the season with a scrimmage at home against Mattituck on Saturday, March 15, and another scrimmage on Monday, March 17, at Southampton. The Whalers will host Southampton for a non-league game on Thursday, March 20, at 4 p.m. and will travel to face Mercy in another non-league game a day later at 4:30 p.m. Pierson will have another scrimmage, at Hampton Bays, on March 27, and will visit East Hampton for a non-league game on March 28 at 4 p.m. before opening the League IX season at Smithtown Christian on March 31 at 4:30 p.m.