It’s been a memorable high school career for Tucker Schiavoni, and even while his team was losing, 10-2, to Wheatley in the Long Island Championship on Sunday, he made room for one more highlight.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, the senior smacked an RBI-single to right field on a 0-2 count to bring home classmate Truman Yardley. He even stole second before the final out of the game was recorded.
“It felt nice to finish it off with a hit,” Schiavoni said. “I was just swinging as hard as I could, hoping to hit the ball. I had a great high school career. Now onto the next chapter.”
The Roanoke College-bound catcher finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBI-singles and a stolen base, and made crucial defensive plays early, throwing out two Wheatley runners trying to advance to second. The Wildcats didn’t attempt a steal the rest of the way.
Coach Tyler LaBorne touted his All-County, All-League and League VI MVP, especially for his defensive efforts.
“You can put him up against anybody in the country in high school, and he’d be right there,” he said.
Schiavoni’s first hit came during a big top of the third inning for the Whalers. Sophomore Gavin Gilbride led off with a hit up on the middle on a 2-2 count, and junior Wilson Bennett followed with a single into in left field. Freshman Dominick Mancino poked an RBI-single into right field to bring home Gilbride and tie the game, and stole second before senior Jackson Sabbeth loaded the bases. That’s when Schiavoni belted his RBI-single to right to score Bennett and give Pierson its first and only lead, 2-1, against the Class B team.
Due to changes in scheduling amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the matchups were decided by conference this year not by class. Pierson is a smaller Class C school compared to Wheatley.
“Coming in, we were the underdogs because they’re a class above us,” Schiavoni said. “Bringing the game to a 1-run lead really felt amazing, and I just wanted to keep the lead and extend it.”
Unfortunately, a double play ended the threat, and the Wildcats answered with four runs on five hits to close out the inning. Things went from bad to worse for the Whalers in the bottom of the fourth. Errors continued to plague the team, and Wheatley managed to tack on another four runs on four hits for an 8-2 advantage. Sophomore pitcher Christian Pantina relieved junior starter Dan Labrozzi and forced a grounder to second to retire the side.
“We did not play our best baseball. We made a lot of errors and they just made the lead bigger when we could’ve kept it close and stayed in the game,” Schiavoni said. “We didn’t really know where to throw the ball, and once we went down a couple of runs, we took our heads out of the game and we couldn’t get back in it.”
Four batters took to the plate in the top of the fourth and fifth innings for Pierson, and five in the sixth, but the Whalers couldn’t bring their teammates home. After allowing six baserunners in the bottom of the fifth, Mancino took over with a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the sixth, where he earned a strikeout — one of just two for Pierson on the evening.
“My arm hurt a little bit, but I feel like we needed Christian at short stop,” Mancino said. “The bats weren’t working, unfortunately, and we had a couple of errors with two outs and mental mistakes, but we can always work on that. We just need a little more time to bond and a little more practice.”
Mancino also made a spectacular diving catch in centerfield in the bottom of the third for the second out of the inning.
LaBorne said Mancino “is the man,” adding he knew the freshman had a lot to give after throwing him just a few pitches during winter workouts.
“Everybody got five swings on the first day, and on the last one, I said, ‘Hit one right back at my face,’” the coach said. “He hit it right at the screen — right where my face was. He just has amazing bat control. And ever since that, I knew he was going to be something special for us. I’m excited for his future.”
Starting pitcher Kyle Rosenberg struck out 10 Whalers over his complete game and Wheatley freshman Jordan Meirowitz, who was called up to the varsity squad in the middle of the season, went 2-for-4 with a two-run inside-the-park home run and three RBI.
All-League senior Truman Yardley kicked off the top of the seventh with an infield single, and stole second and third to set up Schiavoni’s RBI-single.
Mancino said his captain’s shoes are going to be hard to fill.
“He’s such a good guy — very motivated, great at hitting and defensively,” he said of Schiavoni. “He’s just great to be around.”
LaBorne also knows that from experience. Schiavoni was a freshman starter when the coach was a senior. LaBorne was a solid pitcher and swung a big bat, boasting an MVP season his final year with the team.
“I remember back then he was always asking questions. He and I were always the first ones at the field and the last to leave. That just hasn’t changed, at all,” LaBorne said. “He’s a great young man and respectable kid who comes from a great family. He’s the perfect captain for any baseball team.”