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Mar 16, 2010 9:39 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

New coach leads Whalers

Mar 16, 2010 9:39 AM

The Whalers are the team to beat in League VIII baseball this spring, and they return humble and focused on the challenges ahead.

This spring, new coach and middle school physical education teacher Jonathan Tortorella hopes to build a team that is disciplined in every aspect of the game and he intends to foster positive attributes in his players, including respect, attitude, work ethic, character, responsibility, teamwork, determination and heart. “If we can do these things all the time, everything else will fall into place,” he said.

Pierson’s coach of 22 years, Sean Crowley, was replaced by Tortorella in November and the team’s number one ace Joe Mascali, catcher Casey Crowley and shortstop Ryan Miller graduated in June. With Mascali on the mound and coach Crowley at the helm, the Whalers defeated Port Jefferson in the first two games of a best-of-three series for the Suffolk County Class C title last season and they were the number one seed heading into the playoffs. But in spite of all its success, Pierson was often inconsistent.

Following the championship victory, Pierson lost 11-1 to Nassau County champion Oyster Bay in the Long Island Championship and finished the up-and-down season with a 15-10 overall record.

Tortorella said some new players are showing promise and he has some reliable returnees, but he won’t really know who’s going to shine until the season is under way. “I know Kyle McGowin should be our ace on the mound,” he said, noting that the senior pitcher is one player he expects to do well this season.

McGowin was sidelined from pitching due to injuries last year, but contributed with his catching, skill in the outfield and respectable work at bat. The senior took every precaution to protect his arm and focus on baseball this year, even choosing to opt out of his final winter wrestling with the East Hampton Bonackers varsity team.

Juniors Frank Romeo, Donald Doran and Jake Weingartner, and seniors Jake Federico and Christian Gonzalez joined the varsity team this season and Tortorella said Federico, Weingartner, Doran and Romeo will help fill out the pitching staff. Brandon Kruel, Ed Schall and T.J. Arreguin will also return to the mound this year, so there’s no shortage of players for the position.

“Every position has competition and there are no clear cut favorites as of now,” Tortorella said, adding, “Our upcoming scrimmages will help us sort everything out.”

Bridgehampton senior Cesar Banados also joined the team for his first year on varsity and Tortorella said he’ll play some outfield for Pierson. “Cesar has worked really hard so far,” he said, explaining that Banados has already shown marked improvement.

Tortorella noted that senior George Hoglund is another new player to watch, though he played for the Whalers early last season before leaving the team. This year, the coach said Hoglund has shown real promise at practice, both hitting and in the infield. “I think George Hoglund is going to have a really strong season,” he said.

Seniors Dane Riva, Mark Mahoney and Jeff Schimmer return to the outfield, senior power hitter Joe Dowling is back at first base and returning junior Tyler Gilbride will play second base. Unfortunately, Tortorella said no one has stepped up to embrace the very important catching position and it could hurt the team. “We have a few guys with some experience there but we need someone to really step up at that spot,” he said.

As the defending champions, the Whalers will not be underestimated by any of their opponents this season and Tortorella said his team needs to take every game seriously and focus on one game at a time. “We wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said. “Every game is going to be a battle and we’ll need to really earn it if we are going to make the playoffs.”

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Why was Crowley replaced?
By YEAROUNDER (81), East Hampton on Mar 16, 10 5:02 PM
I wrote an article about it last week, which you can find by clicking the "Pierson Whalers" under "Teams" in the sports section.

You might also enjoy my interview with Pierson AD Monty Granger, which definitely relates. It is in the same section as the Crowley story.

Thanks for reading, YEAROUNDER
By Oliver Peterson (19), Southampton Press on Mar 17, 10 12:19 AM