By Gavin Menu
The chips were stacked against the Pierson baseball team in its playoff series against Southold last week even before James Sherry, the team’s junior shortstop and ace starting pitcher, suffered a freak accident just days before the Suffolk County Class C Championship series was set to begin.
The Settlers entered the postseason as the defending Class C champion with a 15-0 regular-season record against competition from Class C and Class D. The Whalers, meanwhile, had an up-and-down season with a record of 11-9, but they could always look forward to games when Sherry was on the mound, or at the plate for that matter, as he brought three seasons of varsity experience and top-level talent to the lineup.
But on May 15, just four days before the playoffs were set to begin, Sherry, who had not been feeling well, fainted at a friend’s house and broke his jaw. He underwent surgery and was ordered by doctors to stay away from baseball, a sport he plays year-round, for six to eight weeks, according to Pierson head coach Jon Tortorella.
The next round of bad news came Thursday, May 19, when the Whalers lost the series opener, 9-1, at Southold. Senior Ryan Chisholm
started the game for Pierson but left after one inning with soreness in his right shoulder. He did not return and also could not pitch or play the field during a 12-5 loss in game two at Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor on Saturday, which locked up Southold’s second consecutive county title.
“They’re a good team, and you get a group like that every so often and you have to ride it,” said Pierson coach Jon Tortorella, who is just two years removed from a string of titles himself. “They have a nice pitching staff right now.”
Southold’s Dylan Clausen pitched six scoreless innings in the opener with nine strikeouts as the Whalers could only muster a single run in the seventh inning.
Playing at home for game two on Saturday, which normally Chisholm would have started if not for his and Sherry’s injuries, Southold tagged senior starter Jonathan Severance for five runs in the first inning. The Whalers clawed back with three runs in the bottom of the first, but with sophomore Sam Warne coming out of the bullpen in the fifth inning, Southold exploded for six more runs to take a 12-4 lead and effectively put the game away.
The Settlers advanced in the New York State tournament and will play a regional semifinal on June 2 against the winner from Nassau County, a game that will double as the Long Island Championship.
Pierson came together for one last time as a team on Monday, and Tortorella began to look toward next season and the loss of nine seniors, including Chisholm, his starting third baseman and number-two starting pitcher.
“We’re losing a lot of kids, even to other schools,” Tortorella said. “We lost half our freshman class to boarding school. We’ve got guys, it’s just going to be a matter of them stepping up.”
Graduating this spring along with Chisholm and Severence are Harrison Yardley, Cameron Burton, Baxter Potter, Stephen Musnicki, Thomas LaGrassa, Wilver Garcia-Juarez and Dylan Breault.