Pierson Baseball Looks To Continue Its Success - 27 East

Pierson Baseball Looks To Continue Its Success

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Pierson seniors Christian Pantina, left, Gavin Gilbride and Massimo Vaccaro.   KYRIL BROMLEY

Pierson seniors Christian Pantina, left, Gavin Gilbride and Massimo Vaccaro. KYRIL BROMLEY

Max Krotman proved to be one of the top hitters in his first year on varsity last season and he's expected to be a big bat in the lineup once again this spring.   KYRIL BROMLEY

Max Krotman proved to be one of the top hitters in his first year on varsity last season and he's expected to be a big bat in the lineup once again this spring. KYRIL BROMLEY

Pierson senior Gavin Gilbride gears up for a pitch.   KYRIL BROMLEY

Pierson senior Gavin Gilbride gears up for a pitch. KYRIL BROMLEY

Andy Wayne started on the mound for the Whalers in their scrimmage at East Hampton on Friday.  KYRIL BROMLEY

Andy Wayne started on the mound for the Whalers in their scrimmage at East Hampton on Friday. KYRIL BROMLEY

Drew Budd on Mar 29, 2023

By the time the dust settled following a roller coaster of a county playoff run a season ago, the Pierson baseball team fell short of its goal of winning another county title to eventual Long Island Champion Port Jefferson.

In some ways it was a little bit of a letdown, following all of the program’s success previously. At the same time, the Whalers had defied expectations following losses to graduation while teams like Port Jeff, and to a lesser extent Southold, had clearly caught up to them skillwise.

After last season, the Whalers said goodbye to six seniors, including Brendan Burke, Vincent Cavaniola, Charlie Culver, Reed Kelsey, Dan Labrozzi and Everett McMahon. But the baseball program has shown for years now that it typically replaces those seniors rather quickly through the younger ranks — this season in particular is no different — and along with a strong returning group, the Whalers are expecting to vie for yet another county title this spring.

Leading the group of returning players this season is senior catcher Gavin Gilbride, senior shortstop Christian Pantina, junior third baseman Charles Schaefer and junior centerfielder Dom Mancino. Also returning are juniors Mason Wheeler and Nathan Dee and sophomores Braeden Mott, Paul Roesel, Lucas Iulo and Andy Wayne.

Massimo Vaccaro, a senior who hasn’t played baseball the past few years, has returned to the sport and has impressed head coach Jonathan Schwartz early on, especially on the mound.

“We have a ton of arms this year,” he said. “Even with some of the early injuries that we have, we have a crazy amount of arms. That has to be our strength going into the season.

“Nathan didn’t really pitch last year. He worked out all offseason, had a couple of private lessons and has become a bonafide pitcher, to the point that he and Andy Wayne are probably the most ready to go, in terms of their conditioning,” Schwartz added. “Everybody else for that matter had a great offseason. We held a lot of workouts indoors and we had very high turnouts at each one, again, with a lot of pitchers, so we’re solid there.”

Max Krotman is also returning after a solid freshman season, one which saw him play his way into a starting outfield role and into the middle of the lineup, where Schwartz figures he’ll slot right into again.

Pierson will compete in League X this season along with alternatively placed and playoff ineligible Amityville, Bridgehampton/Ross, Greenport, Port Jeff and Southold. The Whalers also have a handful of mandatory nonleague games that will count toward its league schedule and thus have an effect on qualifying for playoffs.

Reigning Class C Long Island Champion Port Jeff and Southold proved they can keep up with the Whalers last season, and Bridgehampton/Ross is returning its entire team from last season. Due to his pitching depth, Schwartz gave his team the early leg up on competition, but if the past has taught his team anything, it’s not to take any opposing teams for granted.

Pierson started the season on Wednesday with a nonleague game at Babylon and will open the league season against Greenport on April 12.

“We may be a bit more balanced than we have been in the past, but there are still unknowns with our team, offensively and maybe even defensively,” Schwartz said. “There is still a lot of learning to do, things they haven’t done yet, at least not with me, and so it might take a little time to gel and have it all fall into place, but I think as we go along here, our talent and experience will help us in the long run.”

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