Sam Warne sat quietly in the dugout while his teammates warmed up under ominous gray skies at Mashashimuet Park on Tuesday. It was clearly not just another playoff game for the Pierson senior, whose on-field intensity has been well documented.
“I’ve been pitching on that field my entire life and that was probably my last senior start there,” Warne said later. “So I was just soaking it all in.”
Pierson’s senior righthander was steady on the mound through six rain-soaked innings and his team’s offense was explosive in support as the Whalers crushed Southold, 10-1, to advance in the double-elimination Class C tournament. To beat Southold in front of a large home crowd that remained on hand despite the steady rain meant a lot to Warne and his teammates, who have been the victims in the last two county championships to the Settlers.
“We have a deep history going against them, so getting that win in such a dominant fashion meant a lot to me personally, just being on the losing end of so many games against them,” Warne said. “It was awesome.”
With Tyler LaBorne having pitched and won the first game of the postseason, Warne was on the mound for the first time on Tuesday in what he hopes will be a long playoff run for his final season for the Whalers, who are the top-ranked Class C team in Suffolk County. The Settlers arrived at Mashashimuet Park also riding a wave of momentum after their opening round victory over Mercy on Friday, May 18.
But after a quick top of the first inning in which Pierson turned a nifty 1-6-3 double play, Warne led off the bottom half by reaching on an error on a high popup that dropped in the infield. Singles by Nick Egbert and LaBorne were followed by a sacrifice fly from Cooper Schiavoni, and the Whalers led, 2-0, in what seemed like an instant. They tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the second with Warne coming around to score again, along with Egbert, LaBorne and Matt Hall, and the game quickly turned into a runaway.
“That was awesome,” Warne said about his team’s offensive production. “The game before I felt like we hit decent against a great pitcher. If we can get the runs, I just need to do my job.”
Warne kept Southold in check through four innings, but ran into trouble in the fifth, giving up his lone run on an infield ground ball that scored Connor Wilinski. With the bases loaded and two outs, Warned forced a routine grounder to Hall at second base and the threat was over.
“It was getting really wet out there. It was tough conditions to play in,” Warne said, adding that he was rushing to finish the game before umpires decided to postpone the finish to the next day.
Instead, Southold moved into the loser’s bracket and will face Mercy, which knocked Stony Brook from the playoffs with a walk-off homerun in extra innings on Monday, in an elimination game at Mercy on Wednesday.
Pierson, which has not lost a game yet in the postseason, will host the winner of that game back at Mashashimuet Park on Thursday, May 24, at 4 p.m. The Whalers will claim the county championship with a victory, while a Pierson loss would lead to one final game on Friday, also in Sag Harbor, at 4 p.m.