The Pierson Whalers left the bases loaded twice, but never gave up in a 5-1 loss at Class B Center Moriches Monday.
“We played OK, not our best,” Pierson head coach Jonathan Schwartz said after his 2018 Class C championship team gave the reigning state champions a run for their money. “We’re young, so it’s tough, but we have guys coming up, getting experience in every game. This is the third game, so they’re going to learn, grow, and get better with every game.”
Junior pitcher Matt Hall shined in his first appearance back on the mound, tossing five strikeouts over five innings.
“I just wanted to throw strikes, trust my fielders behind me,” he said. “I think we played a great game. It just didn’t go our way.”
After losing five players to graduation last year, including his starting left-handed and right-handed pitchers, Schwartz was excited to have Hall back on the mound.
“Pitching was phenomenal,” the coach said. “He had some timely, great pitches, and really dragged us through the game.”
Hall picked up his second, third, and fourth strikeouts in the bottom of the second inning after giving up one run in the first on an RBI-single following a steal.
Junior Pierce Summers (1-for-2 with two walks and a stolen base) started the fourth with a hit, and Tucker Schiavoni (2-for-3 and a walk) doubled to right to put runners at first and third with one out, but a strikeout and groundout halted the threat. Harry Cowen hit a lead-off single in the fifth, and his next two teammates moved him over to third to bring up Hall with two outs. His RBI-single cut the Red Devils’ lead in half, 2-1.
The Whalers had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth and with two outs in the seventh, but came up empty both times.
“We had chances, just didn’t follow through,” Hall said. “It’s tough losing leaders, but we have young ones in the making. I liked the way we battled to the end, didn’t give up.”
Junior Nick Egbert finished 1-for-2 with two walks and a stolen base, and classmate Henry Brooks went 1-for-3 with a walk.
The Whalers host Center Moriches at home Tuesday, April 2, at 4:30 PM, before traveling back to the Red Devils for the final game of the series on Friday, April 5, at 4:30 PM.
“I think we’ll be a little looser tomorrow back at home,” Schwartz said following the game, before looking even farther into the future. “We’re going to be right back where we were last year. That’s what we expect, and that’s our goal.”
The returning Suffolk County champions started the season with 15-5 and 9-1 wins over Southold, the only other Class C school, but with a Section XI switch from nine leagues back to eight, the Whalers will be competing against tough B schools all season, including Southampton, Mattituck, and Babylon.
“We weren’t afraid to go head-to-head with them,” Schwartz said. “The confidence was there.”