On Friday, the Pierson baseball team’s pitching was spectacular, but the bats were silent. Saturday, the bats awoke and the pitching stayed strong. The result: two wins, and a state playoff berth.
The Whalers (12-0 in league play, 14-3 overall) defeated Haldane High School, 5-1, at Dowling College on Saturday to advance to the New York State Class C Semifinals for the second straight year to play Bolivar-Richburg High School in Binghamton. This was also the second straight year that Pierson defeated Haldane: The Whalers won, 5-4, last year in the Southeast Regional final.
Friday’s win was an unusual one: Pierson captured the Long Island Class C Championship, the team’s second in a row, with a 1-0 victory over the Friends Academy, despite the fact that Friends pitcher Matt Feinstein no-hit the Whalers. Pierson scratched out a first-inning run, and pitcher Nick Kruel threw a gem, a five-hit shutout, to capture the Long Island title.
On Saturday, the Whalers received another dominant pitching performance, this time by senior Forrest Loesch, who pitched a complete-game four-hitter, allowing only one run and striking out four. In the batter’s box, Tim Markowski led Pierson with two RBIs, a run and a hit.
Loesch stymied Haldane for most of the game, except in the third inning, when he hit a batter and walked two others, leading to the Blue Devils’ only run, on an RBI-double by John Maldonado. The damage was limited in part by catcher Aaron Schiavoni throwing out a runner stealing second base.
“We played this team last year, and we knew they lost a lot of seniors, but I knew they had a lot of good players, because they made it here again,” said Loesch. “I mixed it up and kept my ball down and just went from there. The quick scores gave me a lot of confidence, made my life very easy, and my defense was incredible.”
After posting a zero in the hit column on Friday, manager Jon Tortorella said he was thinking of ways to try to alleviate the negative psychological impact that the no-hitter could have on his team. One of his coaches sarcastically suggested burning the bats—but the manager actually liked the idea. So the team gathered around and light-heartedly performed a traditional sage burning to “cleanse” the bats on Friday night.
“A lot of hitting is mental, so we wanted to figure out a way to mentally allow the kids to forget about Friday,” said Tortorella. “It came up sarcastically, but this is all about believing—and it was a fun way to get that stress of being no-hit off the kids’ minds.”
For the second straight day, the Whalers played a great game of “small ball,” running the bases aggressively, properly advancing on ground balls and scoring on sacrifice flies. They scored on two wild pitches and added another run on a Markowski sacrifice fly.
Haldane’s pitcher, John Rotando, went all six innings, allowing five runs and four hits.
“[Rotando] was a little wild. Every time he threw a strike, it was right over the plate. If you were just patient and waited for your pitch, you could drive it,” said Markowksi.
Junior Johnny Chisholm led off the scoring in the first by capitalizing on a wild pitch. Forrest Loesch then helped himself out in the third with an RBI ground-out, followed by Markowski’s RBI double, to give the Whalers a 4-1 lead. Markowski added an insurance run in the fifth, singling to left then stealing second, and eventually scoring on a wild pitch.
“We were attacking some good pitches today and were very aggressive on the bases. The big difference between today and yesterday was getting guys in when we got them over,” said Tortorella.
“Everyone on this team is dedicated to the cause,” Loesch said. “Our goal this season is to win states. This year, everyone’s buying in. We want to win, and you can see it in how wild everyone is on the bench when we’re hitting. It’s a great time.”
Pierson will take on Boliver-Richburg at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Conlon Field in Binghamton.
No-hitters hold novelty, while shutouts hold substance. At least that’s what Pierson and Friends Academy found out Friday afternoon at Dowling College. The Whalers beat Friends by the score of 1-0 to win the Long Island Class C Championship, despite Quakers’ pitcher Matt Feinstein throwing a no-hitter.
Pierson’s Johnny Chisholm led off the first inning with a walk, stole second and then was moved over to third on a groundball by Jack Fitzpatrick. Catcher Aaron Schiavoni hit a sacrifice fly to center field, bringing home Chisholm, for the game’s only run.
Sag Harbor starting pitcher Nick Kruel threw a shutout, working around five Quaker hits. Friends Academy’s best chance came in the top of the fifth, with a runner on third with one out, but Kruel got the batter to ground out, and then first baseman Tim Markowski nailed the Quakers’ runner at the plate to end the inning.
“We’ve got these [T-shirts] that say ‘Find a Way,’ and it’s funny because we talked at the end of the day and said we’re not going to hit the baseball a lot,” said manager Jon Tortorella. “We’ve got good pitching, and you just got to find a way to do it. I’ve been saying that all season long. Then they found the way through a lot of things today.”