Hampton Bays baseball head coach Pete Meehan didn’t mince words when first approached after his team’s 7-4 come-from-behind victory over Pierson/Bridgehampton at home on Thursday, April 25.
“Good for us!” said the longtime Baymen skipper.
His team (2-10 in League VIII, 4-10 overall) had been reeling of late, losing nine straight, including the first two of the series to the Whalers (2-7 in League VIII, 4-7 overall) earlier this week.
“We deserved it. I mean, we haven’t been playing well, but it also seems like we haven’t been getting many breaks,” Meehan added. “Seems like every mistake we’ve made, we’ve paid for. The baseball gods say it’s supposed to even out. I don’t know if that’s true or not—but we’ll take it, no doubt.”
It seemed as though the Baymen were going to pay for their mistakes in the series finale as well. Hampton Bays starting pitcher Jaden Ottati had only walked two batters all season coming into the game, but he walked the first two batters he faced—and Pierson’s Cooper Schiavoni drove in both runners on a base hit to right field to give the Whalers an early 2-0 lead.
Then, in the bottom of the first, Hampton Bays had runners on second and third and no outs, only to strand those runners when Schiavoni, who started on the mound for Pierson, struck out the next three batters he faced to get out of the jam.
But the Baymen became a pesky bunch in the middle innings, tying the game at 2-2 in the fourth. Pierson regained the lead in the fifth with a pair of runs to take a 4-2 lead, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the Baymen.
With one out and the bases loaded, Kevin Eras hit a ground ball that somehow got through the left side of the Pierson infield, scoring both Jordan Adelson and Joe Sapio to tie the game. With the bases loaded again later in the inning, Ottati sent a liner into center field for a base hit, scoring Nick Terry from third, giving the Baymen their first lead of the game, 5-4. Kai Leporati then was hit by a pitch, forcing in a run, and Adelson drew his third walk of the game, forcing in another run to give the Baymen a commanding 7-4 lead.
Ottati, still on the mound in the seventh and final inning, induced three ground ball outs, and the Baymen avoided the sweep at the hands of the Whalers.
“Well deserved. We needed it,” Ottati said after the victory. “[We] fought back. We needed some runs, and we got them when we needed them.”
Ottati allowed two earned runs in the complete game, and struck out only three, but that’s due to him staying with his usual game plan of working fast, throwing strikes and allowing the opposing team to put the ball in play. And, of course, he had the eventual game-winning hit.
“If we can make plays behind him, then we can be successful,” Meehan said. “Today, we made enough plays behind him to be successful. [Ottati] has been struggling at the plate, but in that situation he’s still the guy you want in there more than anybody else.”
As for Pierson, head coach Jonathan Schwartz had mixed emotions about the series in general. He would have liked to have swept Hampton Bays, but he appreciated the way his players competed, especially with their aggressive approach at the plate, facing a pitcher who throws to contact.
“It was frustrating but at the same time encouraging,” he said. “I liked the way we were swinging the bats today. We had been struggling just to make contact earlier in the season. Today, we made some really good contact, but it just so happened we hit it right at their players, and they made all the plays they needed to.”
Both Hampton Bays and Pierson should be competitive in their next series, with the Baymen facing Southold and the Whalers going up against Port Jefferson, both having started this past Monday.
Ottati said Thursday’s victory should give his team some good momentum heading into its next series, while Meehan wanted to focus on his team’s victory.
“We were here yesterday, had a full practice, didn’t cut any corners ... these kids deserve to win,” he said. “They’ve paid their dues as much as anybody else. So, good for us.”