By Bill Landon
Late errors proved costly for Port Jefferson’s baseball team as Pierson-Bridgehampton turned in an eight-run fifth inning en route to an 11-1 defeat of the Royals April 28.
The Whalers struck first when, in the top of the second, a Royals throw to home plate was just late. But Port Jefferson’s leadoff hitter in the bottom of the inning, senior Kris Cheslock, knocked the third pitch he saw deep to left field that cleared the fence and then some, to make it a new game.
“It was a 2-1 count, I was looking for a fastball and it came to me right down the middle,” Cheslock said. “I had a nice swing on it, and I knew it was gone.”
Port Jefferson senior starting pitcher Sean Griffin had his hands full in the top of the third when the Whalers advanced two runners to scoring position with no outs, but he challenged the next three batters and the Royals defense did its job, as Pierson-Bridgehampton stranded both Whalers on base.
Port Jefferson sophomore Jordan Suarez hit a blooper to shallow right field next, and capitalized on the right fielder’s bobble to stretch a single to a double, but the Royals failed to bring him home. The Whalers plated a runner in the top of the fourth to break the tie.
“We saw them the last two games, so we knew we had to play a clean game, and we didn’t do that,” Cheslock said. “We need to work on our defense and it needs to be better.”
In the fifth inning, a pickoff throw to first fell into the dirt and rolled by the first baseman. Two pitches later, another pickoff attempt rolled by second base this time, to help the Whalers runner advance to third. Pierson-Bridgehampton slammed home hit after hit thereafter, and drew timely walks with the bases loaded to score eight runs by time the Royals tallied three outs.
“The way baseball is, you’ve got to take in one day at a time — the mistakes we made today can’t be mistakes we carry with us into Wednesday’s game,” Port Jefferson head coach Jesse Rosen said. “We’re 7-8 and we have games ahead of us that are winnable games for us. We need to go 10-10 to put ourselves in the playoffs, and truthfully that’s not an unreasonable thing.”
Despite the defensive mistakes, the Royals hit the ball hard in the bottom of the inning. Senior Nick Andriani smacked a leadoff single, and Suarez followed with a shot through the gap, and bother runners advanced on a wild pitch with one out. But the Whalers’ defense came through for the win.
“Granted not the way you want to step into the last quarter of your season — our defense was far from optimal today,” Rosen said. “Baseball’s a game where you [shake off a loss like today’s] and get ready for your next game.”
The Royals look to get back to .500 when they hit the road to take on Southold May 3 at 4:30 p.m.