SUFFOLK COUNTY CLASS B TOURNAMENT | TUCKERS 11, RED DEVILS 7
In the double-elimination world of the Suffolk County Class B baseball tournament, this amounted to a good, old-fashioned do-over. Five days after they played each other in their first playoff game, Mattituck and Center Moriches were foes once again, on even ground, each with a loss and no margin for error. Once again, they had their No. 1 pitchers facing each other.
However, the differences were striking in this rematch on Wednesday. The first playoff game was about the pitchers; this game was about the hitters. And, oh yeah, this time Mattituck won.
Joe Tardif went 4 for 5 and scored four runs, Marcos Perivolaris drove in four runs, and third-seeded Mattituck eliminated No. 2 Center Moriches from the playoffs, 11-7, at Center Moriches High School’s Coach Paul Gibson Varsity Baseball Field. James Nish added two runs batted in for the Tuckers.
“We had our backs against the wall. We had to win this game,” said Tardif, the freshman center fielder who equaled his career-high with four hits in the game.
In order to win the double-elimination county tournament, Mattituck would need to defeat No. 1 Southampton twice in Southampton. The teams will play on Saturday. If Mattituck wins, they will face each other again on Tuesday for the title. Southampton played Mattituck three times this year, beating the Tuckers each time.
Some good hitting would come in handy for Mattituck (15-8). In Friday’s game, Mattituck and Center Moriches combined for one run and three hits as Mattituck junior Cameron Burt pitched a no-hitter, and lost! On Wednesday, the teams combined for 18 runs and 22 hits. Fourteen of those hits came off Mattituck bats, giving the Tuckers 27 hits in two games.
“Our mindset was, ‘Don’t let any pitcher beat us, just keep hitting,’ ” Perivolaris, the sophomore shortstop, said. “We didn’t stop fighting.”
Neither starting pitcher was as sharp as he was in the first playoff meeting. Burt (five innings pitched, eight hits, seven earned runs, three walks, five strikeouts) brought his record to 6-2. Center Moriches junior Patrick Bryant (four innings pitched, nine hits, three earned runs, one walk, six strikeouts) did not figure in the decision.
Mattituck twice rallied for four runs, including the sixth inning when it broke a 7-7 tie. Perivolaris bounced a two-run single into center field, making the score 9-7.
“They are a contact-hitting team,” Center Moriches coach Mike Garofola said. “They’re going to put the ball in play, so you know, you just have make pitches on them because they like to swing the bat.”
The Tuckers had taken leads of 5-3 (thanks to their four-run burst in the third) and 7-4. But one wondered if all that good work would be undone and they would be deflated by the way Center Moriches (13-10) bounced back to tie the score in the fifth.
Not a chance.
A two-run double by Sean Finnegan (three RBI) and a bad-hop single by James Schaefer brought in three Center Moriches runs, making the score 7-7. All three runs came with two outs.
No matter. Mattituck went back to work producing runs.
“Everyone got pumped up after each hit and each run that scored,” Perivolaris said. “We answered back, and we did what we needed to do.”
It also didn’t hurt Mattituck’s cause that Center Moriches made six errors.
“Neither pitcher had great stuff today and could locate pitches like they did the first time around,” said Garofola.
Still, Garofola couldn’t complain about Bryant, who finished a superb season with a 7-1 record. “He had an off day, and he’s entitled,” Garofola said. “I would never be disappointed in him because I know he’s going to give me his maximum effort every outing.”
Meanwhile, Mattituck’s effort at the plate had to be applauded.
“We did what we needed to do,” Perivolaris said. “We got the job done.”