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Jul 31, 2018 6:28 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

The End Of An Era For The Kruel Family

Sandi Kruel and son Nick Kruel before his big start on Friday. DREW BUDD
Jul 31, 2018 9:48 AM

For well over a decade, the Kruel family has called Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor a second home.

Sandi Kruel has been co-general manager of the Sag Harbor Whalers of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League with Tom Gleason for the past 11 years, and more than eight years ago, Brandon Kruel, Sandi’s oldest son, took the mound for the Whalers, followed by her middle son, Nick. But way before the Whalers even existed, Sandi Kruel attended Pierson High School and watched her brothers, Michael and Sam Piro, play at the same park.

A 4-1 loss to the Riverhead Tomcats in the HCBL semifinal series on Saturday marked the end of Nick’s tenure as a starting pitcher for the Whalers and thus, the end of an era for the Kruel family.

“When Nick took the mound [Friday], in my heart I kinda knew that was going to be the last time that somebody from my family was going to take the mound, and it was very surreal for me, and of course, his outing was so good,” Ms. Kruel said. “For me it was just amazing to be a mom and a GM, and at times it’s actually been very hard to do both, because you want to say something but you can’t. Fortunately, my children have been held to a higher standard than everybody else because they have to lead by example, but, at the end of the day, I think both of my boys rose to the occasion. I’m very proud of my boys.”

Nick Kruel, 20, was besieged by a number of injuries, both in high school and in college. He suffered a broken leg playing soccer at Pierson, which ended his soccer career, then multiple heart surgeries altered his college career, but he wouldn’t let either of those issues stop him. He developed a knuckleball early on at college and it eventually led to him becoming the all-time wins leader (9) for the Whalers, the last of which came on Friday in game two of the series, holding Riverhead to just one earned run and keeping the Whalers alive. Kruel has been tied with the franchise lead in wins with another Pierson and Whaler alum, Kyle McGowin, who is in the Washington Nationals farm system, and he tied the HCBL all-time wins record with former Whaler and Center Moriches Battlecat Adam Brown (Stony Brook/Dowling), who won nine games between 2010-2012.

“I’ve said it before, I’ve loved playing for the Whalers,” Nick Kruel said after Saturday’s game. “Just the whole summer baseball vibe, being able to play for your local team, and to be honest, I can argue that I’ve enjoyed my time here more than I did playing at school, it’s so stress free. So the fact that it’s over is really bittersweet. Obviously we wanted to win this thing, you can’t win them all, but it’s a really good baseball team.”

After finishing up at Tampa next year, Kruel said, if the opportunity presented itself, he would love to return to the Whalers in some capacity, whether it be as a coach or even co-GM.

“I definitely thought about it. I’m graduating this year—I don’t know what’s going to happen in terms of maybe getting drafted, maybe a job—but if I do end up graduating and I’m out here for the summer I would be more than ecstatic to come and help out in some way,” he said.

As for Ms. Kruel, she hasn’t decided on whether 2018 would be her final season with the Whalers just yet.

“I think it’s too early to make that decision. It’s very hard to commit at the end of a season, but I can say that when I started this 11 years ago, I didn’t have a child playing and it took six years for my first son to get into it, and I was still there. So I believe that my 20 years of donating my time to children doesn’t stop today. Where that takes me I don’t know.”

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