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Jul 29, 2019 9:45 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Sag Harbor Whalers Fall In Three Games To Riverhead Tomcats

Peter Marren (Bucknell) completes a throw from the infield on Friday. GAVIN MENU
Jul 30, 2019 1:27 PM

Following a spirited charge to close out the regular season, the Sag Harbor Whalers of the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League brought the same competitive fire to their semifinal playoff series against the Riverhead Tomcats last week.

The Whalers dropped game one of the three-game series, 4-3, on Thursday, July 25, but bounced back in front of their hometown fans with a 9-5 victory at Mashashimuet Park on Friday. With a berth in the HCBL Championship series on the line, Riverhead scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 4-4 tie back home on Saturday and advanced with a 6-4 victory that brought Sag Harbor’s summer league season to a close.

Riverhead moved on to face the Westhampton Aviators, who knocked off the Southampton Breakers in the other semifinal series this week, with a league title on the line. Game one of the three-game championship series was Monday, with the Aviators pulling away with a 10-4. Game two was played Tuesday afternoon with a possible game three Wednesday after press time.

Sag Harbor’s series with Riverhead was competitive right down to the last inning, when Riverhead’s Joseph Murphy (NYIT) closed the book on the Whalers’ season by pitching a scoreless top of the ninth. The Whalers actually outhit Riverhead, 10-7, but committed six costly errors that led to an unearned run off starter John LaPointe (Wagner) earlier in the game.

The Whalers bats were alive all season with cleanup hitter River Town (LSU-Eunice) leading the way over the three-game stretch. Town combined to go 7 for 12 in the series with seven runs scored and two RBIs and capped an offensive explosion in game two on Friday with a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning that gave the Whalers a comfortable 9-1 lead. The bomb to right field scored Peter Marren (Bucknell), who was another offensive standout this season and finished the postseason with a .462 batting average, five RBIs and three runs scored.

Sag Harbor had a rocky season off the field with a managerial change mid-season, from Steve Litras to James Pereira, and a shakeup in the front office where Tom Gleason returned to his role as general manager after retiring from the same post just last year. Prior to this season, Gleason had led the Whalers since their inception alongside Sandi Kruel, who is now the league president.

The Whalers went 19-21 during the regular season to finish in third place behind Riverhead and Westhampton, which finished with identical 27-11-2 records.

Pereira Named New Commissioner

With the season coming to a close last week, it was officially announced that Pereira would step down as manager of the Whalers and become the new commissioner of the HCBL, replacing Vin Colasuonno in that role. Pereira was a professional scout in the Cincinnati Reds organization for 20 years and has coached at the collegiate level and in a number of summer leagues, including Cape Cod, which is widely considered the standard bearer for summer collegiate baseball leagues in America.

“Sandi saw my experience and said this is a guy that can help us take things to the next level,” Pereira said in an interview on Tuesday. “I love coaching, but this gives me the opportunity to help the whole league. The talent in this league is really, really good. It just needs some fine tuning here and there and I think it will be one of the premier leagues in the country.”

With seven teams in the league, Pereira said he will work on making everything uniform across the all teams, even down to small details. He will also emphasize the importance of batting practice and infield/outfield sessions, which is what scouts are looking for in terms of being able to evaluate entire rosters.

“It’s all about professionalism and acting classy and making the league a premier league. It’s on the cusp right now with the talent we have,” Pereira said. “We want to give these scouts the opportunity to cover the league. You want to see every kid field and you want to see every kid hit.

“There’s also a lot of good things—I could go on and on about how good the league is,” he added. “I thought Sandi did a phenomenal job.”

Kruel agreed that the year went well, especially when it came to the talent on the field, which, she said, was as good as she can remember.

“I’m expecting a really high draft out of this group of players,” the first-year president said. “The level of talent has been unbelievable.”

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