Say this about the Mattituck Tuckers: When they set their minds to achieving something, they are pretty good at getting results, whether it be improving their hitting or winning a county championship.
Mattituck did both on Thursday.
Not only did the Tuckers claim their third Suffolk County title in nine years and their first since 2008, but they did so in stunning fashion. A 25-run output put an exclamation mark on the accomplishment.
Top-seeded Mattituck hit just about everything in sight, blowing away the No. 2 Babylon Panthers, 25-6, in the final game of the Suffolk Class B Tournament at Mattituck High School.
After relief pitcher Travis Zurawski recorded a strikeout for the game’s final out, he flipped his glove in the air before being piled on by happy teammates, who dove on top of each other while “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang played over the sound system.
“I don’t think anyone was expecting that,” Mattituck second baseman George Lessard said of the 25-run explosion. “We were just hoping to come out of here with a win.”
With the victory, Mattituck earned a place in the Long Island final. It will play the Oyster Bay Baymen on Sunday morning at Farmingdale State College.
The numbers Mattituck (18-5) registered were staggering. The Tuckers totaled 23 hits. Tom Ascher homered twice while teammates Yianni Rauseo, Lessard and Greg Siliris also knocked balls over the fence. Tom Ascher drove in a career-high seven runs on 5-for-5 hitting. Siliris had six runs batted from four hits, three of which were doubles. Rauseo and Lessard had three RBI each. Zurawski scored five runs.
Crazy numbers. Incredible numbers.
The Tuckers were dissatisfied with their approach at the plate in their previous game, a 7-2 loss to Babylon two days earlier on the same field, so they did something about it. They focused on hitting in practice.
“I felt really confident because we took [batting practice] before the game, and everybody was smacking the ball left and right,” said Siliris, the only remaining player from Mattituck’s 2008 county champion team. “It just looked nice. It looked like our old team again.”
The Tuckers merely continued batting practice once the game started.
Eleven Tuckers had at least one hit, including pinch hitter Anthony Williams, who delighted the Mattituck dugout when he poked a single to center field in the fifth inning. It was his first hit of the season.
“That’s one of my highlights,” said Mattituck Coach Steve De Caro.
Sanders Shanks (three RBI) and Max Watt both homered for Babylon (12-12).
Steve Ascher (10-0) picked up the win. He had 10 strikeouts while giving up six hits and three walks in five innings before being relieved by Rauseo. The senior left-hander allowed six runs, only one of which was earned.
Mattituck produced an 11-run first inning. Rauseo made a good connection early in that rally, lining a three-run home run, his seventh of the year. That remarkable half an inning saw Mattituck bang out nine hits.
“I think the score became irrelevant and we just made sure we kept playing,” Tom Ascher said. “We were just having fun.”
A 10-run rally by Mattituck in the fifth gave the Tuckers a 22-6 lead.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Babylon Coach Anthony Sparacio said of Mattituck’s offensive production. “It was shocking.”
He wasn’t the only one taken aback by what he saw.
“I can never remember a hitting barrage like this one,” De Caro said. “We certainly didn’t disappoint. We hit the ball all over the yard today.”
But even in triumph there is some pain, such as the physical sort Siliris experienced at the bottom of that dogpile near the pitcher’s mound moments after the game ended.
“It hurt,” he said. “I was at the bottom. I caught a couple of knees to the leg, but that was a good pain.”
Twenty-five runs and a county title have a way of salving wounds.