TUCKERS 5, MARINERS 3
When a baseball team falls behind, 3-0, it needs its entire batting order to pull through, from top to bottom. And sometimes from bottom to top.
It couldn’t be said that the bottom third of Mattituck’s lineup didn’t pull its weight on Wednesday. The Nos. 8 and 9 batters, Ian Nish and Brian Pelan, had two runs batted in each as the Tuckers bounced back from a 3-0 deficit to overcome Southampton, 5-3, in a Suffolk County League VIII baseball game at Mattituck High School. And the No. 7 batter, Nick Bieber, walked twice and executed a sacrifice bunt in his three plate appearances.
When the bottom of the order produces, Mattituck coach Steve De Caro said, “It’s a beautiful thing.”
Another work of beauty was Mattituck’s pitching. Ryan Finger had seven strikeouts, giving up five hits and two walks over six innings for his second win in as many decisions. During one stretch, from the second inning to the fifth, when he struck out the side in order (twice with batters looking at a called third strike), Finger retired 10 of 11 batters.
With Finger’s pitch count over 100, he was relieved by Cameron Burt, who retired all three batters he faced in the seventh inning (the first two by strikeouts) for a save.
“In past games we haven’t been able to throw many strikes, and that’s really cost us,” said Nish, a freshman first baseman making his varsity debut. “I thought it was good that Ryan Finger was able to settle down and he started throwing strikes, and the infield and outfield started making plays behind him. That really helped us out.”
De Caro said the plan was for Finger to pitch four innings before handing the ball over to Burt. “In the fourth [Finger] looked stronger than he did in the beginning of the game,” the coach said, “and in the fifth he looked stronger than he did in the fourth, and he still looked pretty good in the sixth.”
All five Southampton hits came in the first two innings. The Mariners managed only three baserunners the rest of the way.
Mattituck (3-2 overall and in the league) clawed its way back, taking the lead with a three-run fifth that saw only one hit, a leadoff single by Chris Dwyer. But four walks and a hit batsman that inning proved critical. Dwyer raced home on a wild pitch, tying the score at 3-3. Later during the rally, Nish drew a bases-loaded walk, and Pelan was hit by a pitch with the bases full.
“We just pulled together and we started playing smart baseball and we got the win out of it,” said Pelan.
Peter Barnaby was a bit unfortunate to take the loss. The Southampton pitcher was pulled two batters into the fifth. Two runs were later charged to his account. He gave up four hits.
Southampton (0-5, 0-5) looked headed for its first win of the season after taking a 3-0 lead by the second inning, but five errors proved to be the Mariners’ undoing.
A pair of doubles by Wyatt Schmidt and Alex Soyars from Southampton’s first three at-bats brought in the first run. Then Jake Macano made it 2-0 by dropping a bloop RBI single into right field.
In the second, Schmidt socked a two-out RBI single, making it 3-0.
Mattituck pulled two runs back in the fourth. With the bases loaded, Nish picked up his first varsity RBI by hitting into a fielder’s choice, and then Pelan connected for an RBI single.
The loss was a tough one for Southampton. Following a postgame team meeting, Mariners coach Ike Birdsall told a reporter that he did not wish to talk about the game.
The Tuckers had plenty to talk about, though. De Caro said his catcher, Bieber, did “a great job behind the plate” and played his best varsity game. The coach also lauded the continued sharp defensive play of his shortstop, Marcos Perivolaris, who showed great range in fielding a ground ball hit by Soyars on the second baseman’s side of second base for the game’s final out.
“Sometimes we dwell on the negatives because we want to correct the negatives,” De Caro said, “but we had so many positive things.”
From top to bottom — and bottom to top.