Ascher doesn’t get the support he needs

04/08/2010 12:00 AM |

Dan Letteriello of Mattituck was well-prepared to make contact with this pitch.

BABYLON — Steve Ascher and Andrew Cosby matched each other nearly pitch for pitch on Tuesday afternoon.

Ascher, Mattituck’s soft-throwing southpaw, retired the first 10 batters he faced, until Babylon second baseman Shah Sachin broke up his perfect-game bid with a single to left with one out in the fourth inning. That was the only hit Ascher (1-1) allowed in six innings. He struck out seven batters in Mattituck’s 1-0 loss to the Panthers at Babylon High School, and left Babylon Coach Anthony Sparacio impressed.

“Off-speed pitch, curveball,” Sparacio said, explaining how Ascher kept his team off-balance. “Obviously we can’t hit the curveball.”

Cosby (2-0), the Panthers’ hard-throwing righty, also gave up just one hit, a single to Tuckers center fielder Kevin Polak, on his second pitch of the game. He retired 21 of the next 24 batters he faced while striking out 11. Cosby got behind on the count to only three batters in his seven innings of work, walking one.

“He had a nice little hop on his fastball,” Mattituck Coach Steve De Caro said.

While the Panthers (2-0, 1-0 in Suffolk County League VII) held up on defense when Cosby needed help the most, the Tuckers (1-1, 0-1) did not do the same behind Ascher.

Before the sixth inning, Ascher allowed only one base runner. But that changed when Babylon catcher Mark Panarelli, leading off the bottom of the sixth, grounded to Mattituck third baseman Mike Gagen. Gagen’s throw sailed high and wide past first baseman John Schiacchitano, allowing Panarelli to take second.

After Panarelli advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, designated hitter Ricky Negron grounded to shortstop Yianni Rauseo, who looked Panarelli back to third base. But Schiacchitano dropped Rauseo’s low throw, allowing Negron to reach safely. There was still only one out.

When Sachin grounded to second base, Trevor Rehm was forced to try for a double play. He got the forceout at second, but Panarelli scored the game’s only run.

The Tuckers’ best chance to score came in the fourth. With one out, right fielder Dan Letteriello grounded to third, but Andrew Parish’s throw skipped past Max Watt at first, allowing Letteriello to advance to second.

The next batter, Steve Ascher, caught a 1-0 fastball for the most solid contact of the game. He sent a soaring fly ball deep to right-center field. Center fielder Thomas Freyer gave chase and, after sprinting across most of center field and part of the way into right, he caught the ball shoulder high.

Letteriello was most of the way to third and would certainly have scored had the ball dropped. Instead, he was forced to retreat to second. Cosby then got left fielder Connor Daly on a grounder to end the inning.

“Game-saver, run-saver, he did everything right there,” Sparacio said of Freyer. “It would be 1-1 and we’d still be playing. He doesn’t let anything drop out there.”