Whalers Sweep Crosstown Rival Bees, But Series Was Certainly Competitive - 27 East

Whalers Sweep Crosstown Rival Bees, But Series Was Certainly Competitive

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Junior Nathan Dee has become a key arm for the Whalers.   MARIANNE BARNETT

Junior Nathan Dee has become a key arm for the Whalers. MARIANNE BARNETT

Pierson senior Gavin Gilbride makes contact with a pitch.   MARIANNE BARNETT

Pierson senior Gavin Gilbride makes contact with a pitch. MARIANNE BARNETT

Bridgehampton senior Kris Vinski on the mound.   MARIANNE BARNETT

Bridgehampton senior Kris Vinski on the mound. MARIANNE BARNETT

Pierson's Lucas Iulo     MARIANNE BARNETT

Pierson's Lucas Iulo MARIANNE BARNETT

The ball gets away from Pierson first baseman Charles Schaefer with Killer Bee Milo Tompkins on first base.   MARIANNE BARNETT

The ball gets away from Pierson first baseman Charles Schaefer with Killer Bee Milo Tompkins on first base. MARIANNE BARNETT

Bridgehampton senior first baseman Scott Vinski fields a ground ball.  MARIANNE BARNETT

Bridgehampton senior first baseman Scott Vinski fields a ground ball. MARIANNE BARNETT

Junior Nathan Dee has become a key arm for the Whalers.   MARIANNE BARNETT

Junior Nathan Dee has become a key arm for the Whalers. MARIANNE BARNETT

Bridgehampton senior Dylan Fitzgerald lines up a pop out at third base for an out.   MARIANNE BARNETT

Bridgehampton senior Dylan Fitzgerald lines up a pop out at third base for an out. MARIANNE BARNETT

Bridgehampton's Kai Alversa dives into homeplate to score.   MARIANNE BARNETT

Bridgehampton's Kai Alversa dives into homeplate to score. MARIANNE BARNETT

Bridgehampton senior Hugo Kapon lines up a pitch.   MARIANNE BARNETT

Bridgehampton senior Hugo Kapon lines up a pitch. MARIANNE BARNETT

Drew Budd on May 9, 2023

In a battle between a pair of crosstown rivals, it was the Whalers who came out on top.

The Pierson baseball team swept the three-game series from its neighbors to the south, Bridgehampton/Ross, but that doesn’t accurately depict how close each of the games were. Pierson won the first two games of the series by identical scores of 4-3, with the Whalers (14-2 in League X, 14-3 overall) using a three-run rally with one out in the top of the seventh to come back and win the game in Bridgehampton (7-9 in League X) on May 4. And although the final score of game three was 7-2, it was only a 2-0 game heading into the sixth on Saturday.

Pierson head coach Jonathan Schwartz said he liked what he saw from his team, especially being that it was his team’s first true test in League X play after sweeps of Greenport, Southold and Amityville, which they concluded Sunday morning with an 11-3 victory over the Warriors at Mashashimuet Park.

“The whole series was contested,” he said of the series with Bridgehampton. “That’s a really, really good, well coached talented team over there. You can tell, having that second year with everyone, they came to play hard and were confident.”

Pierson senior Gavin Gilbride added that what he saw in his team’s comeback in game one of the series brought the team together.

“I think it showed what this team is made of and shows that we don’t quit — we’re not going to quit,” he said. “We have a very young team, to see those guys come out, comeback, not give up, getting hyped in the dugout, it’s just a completely different atmosphere than against teams like Amityville or Greenport. No disrespect to them, but when you play a tough team, see the guys fired up, it’s just great.”

Much of Pierson’s success this season can be attributed to its deep pitching and sophomore Braeden Mott has certainly been a part of that group. Coming off a no-hitter against Southold, Mott held Bridgehampton scoreless through six innings in Saturday’s finale, only allowing one hit, before running out of steam in the seventh and walking the bases load. Nathan Dee, who has played himself into the closer’s role, having now pitched in relief with the bases loaded and no outs on three separate occasions this season and still being able to leave with his team still in the lead, has left his coaching staff in awe.

“Nathan, he’s been phenomenal,” Schwartz said. “He’s so cool in that role, we couldn’t ask any more from him. We don’t put him in the best spots, but he’s just so cool.”

Dee said, having not really pitched prior to this season, he’s glad to see his coaches have enough confidence in him to put him in tough situations.

“I just lock in. I’m able to come in, don’t let anything get to me,” he said. “Again, just going back to that confidence, whenever there’s a tough situation in the game, I’m glad they’re able to put me in and they are confident in my ability to perform.”

Gilbride, the team’s starting catcher, admitted that, after losing a lot through graduation after last season, particularly the team’s former ace in Daniel Labrozzi, he wasn’t sure what to expect from the pitching staff this season. But with junior Dominick Mancino returning, and the emergence of pitchers like Dee and Mott, and others, it’s been something nice to see.

“Truly we had just one Daniel Labrozzi last year, but this year we’ve got one Nathan, who is hitting the black 84, 85, doing absolutely great, staying calm out there. We’ve got one Andy [Wayne], who is really figuring it out. Braeden has had a great two starts, and then Dom. If our pitching stays sharp, it’s exciting to see how far we’ll go.”

Getting swept by the Whalers put an end to a nice six-game winning streak and back-to-back sweeps of both Amityville and Greenport for the Killer Bees, who head coach Lou Liberatore said have now lost four games this season in which they were winning in the seventh inning. The Bees are only in their second season back on varsity after nearly a half-century layoff, and have given scares to the top two Class C teams in the county in both Pierson and Port Jefferson, but Liberatore is not one for moral victories.

“We’re right there knocking on the door … but we’re not closing games,” he said. “Our starting pitchers did great against Pierson. They didn’t allow an earned run all series.

“It’s great that we’re competitive with these teams, but we have to figure out and find a way to close out games,” Liberatore continued. “We blew two 9-4 leads to Port Jeff — good teams close games out. Hopefully we have a good bounce back against Southold and find a way to close games, play complete games and play well for seven innings.”

Offensively, Liberatore said, someone is going to have to step up because teams have figured out how good Ross junior Milo Tompkins really is. Batting at a .620 clip, teams are starting to pitch around Tompkins, so it’ll be up to his teammates to pick up the slack in that regard.

Liberatore said that with a C/D Qualifier in this year’s Suffolk County playoffs, it may not be the last time the two rivals in Pierson and Bridgehampton face one another this season, but his team needs to take care of business first, which is playing Southold this week in its final League X series of the regular season. After that, the Bees will have to play the waiting game as they are the only Class D team in the county, or on Long Island for that matter, so when, where and who their opponent will be in a Regional Final, the last step prior to states, will be an unknown for a few weeks.

To that end, Pierson has unequivocally its most important series coming up this week when it plays Port Jefferson. The two teams squared off for the county title last season, and it took a walk-off in game three by the Royals to decide that series, and the Whalers are expecting nothing less than a very competitive series, which in essence, will turn into a five or six-game series, with both teams expected to play one another for the Class C county championship next week.

“It’s going to be close, all these games,” Dee said. “Probably going to be one of the toughest teams we’re going to face. We just have to lock in and play how we’ve been playing.

“The atmosphere against Port Jeff, considering how last year ended up, I think it’s going to be a huge series,” Gilbride added. “We’re going to need everyone to get loud. Everyone’s going to have to be there, mentally, physically, everything. But I’m very confident this team, getting as hyped as we were in that game one seventh inning against Bridge, we’re all locked in. I’m not worried with this team at all.”

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